New life and a new attitude has led the Bonney Lake High girls soccer team to a hot start and a spot in second place in the 3A South Puget Sound League after the first month of the season.
When new coach Wayne Farris took over a Panther club that had not lived up to its potential in years past, he decided to take a different route than former coach Luke Helling-Christy had established.
“I give a lot of credit to what Luke did with this club,” Farris said. “A lot of their start is credited to how he prepared them. All I’m doing is taking the program in a different direction with a new team philosophy.”
The new philosophy Farris has established is a common one amongst the local high school coaches: Be yourselves out there because soccer is just a game.
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“Robi Turely (Sumner), Matt White (Puyallup), JR Farias (Rogers) and Dan Stueckle (Emerald Ridge) are all good coaches with good programs,” Farris said. “But while I hold those programs in high esteem, (we’re) not trying to emulate them in any way. I want them to be the best Bonney Lake Panther program they can possibly be.”
And so far that identity has led Bonney Lake to the top of the 3A SPSL entering the week, as the Panthers sit in second behind Sumner (5-1, 4-0 league) with a 3-1 league record and 4-1 overall.
To be in second, Bonney Lake has seen a high volume of energy during games, surprising opponents expecting a more tamed Panther team.
But these cats have adopted the attitude of playing within themselves while exerting a high amount of energy from one source: the captains.
“We have become really good at working together,” Kelsey Lund stated. “We have been working really hard at practice to do that. And to have fun out there — it’s led to a lot of wins.”
Wins and a rude awaking for the rest of the 3A SPSL.
With senior captains Lund and Lauren Hanbidge adding a spark from the midfield, Bonney Lake has not only surprised but been hard to beat on game days. It’s part of a belief that coming together will lead the Panthers to success this year and beyond.
“We’re trying to keep it fun, and just really being about putting the team above ourselves (the individual),” Lund said. “We’re trying to work together to accomplish that goal.”
“We have really good friendships — that has a lot to do with the results,” Hanbidge added. “Because of that, we can take criticism from each other and not get upset.”
In any sport, that’s the key element to improving and, ultimately in the end, winning games. The girls at Bonney Lake have figured this crucial element out that it’s about improving the team.
“It’s not always simple since you’re going to have emotions during the game,” Hanbidge said. “You can get angry at someone, but you just have to realize that in the heat of the moment that something happens. We’re not trying to be rude — we’re trying to improve the team.”
Calmer heads have prevailed as Bonney Lake has been rolling behind a strong team performance. The hot start is a nice introduction for Farris, but it’s about adapting this philosophy for the long haul.
“I really care about these young ladies in our program — and young people in our community as well,” Farris said. “What we talk about as a program, and I desire to pass this on to them is that soccer is a game within the game.”