In the win/loss column, it’s been a tough season for the Peninsula High girls soccer team, with a 3-7-0 overall record and a 2-6-0 record in the Class 3A South Puget Sound League.
The Seahawks graduated nine seniors, so this year’s team is young and inexperienced. The team’s youth has forced first-year coach Jenny Buys to get senior leader Jolene Kvinsland out of her comfort zone.
Kvinsland, who is easy to spot on the pitch thanks to her long, blonde, curly hair — it earned her the nickname “Lion’s Mane” in middle school — has played everywhere on the field this season. First, at her natural position in the midfield, then, at right-mid, then, at forward, and now, at center back, commanding the defense.
It’s been challenging, but Kvinsland is making the most of it.
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“Every single lineup is different every single game because girls are hurt, or out with grades,” Kvinsland said. “She’s been trying to adjust because she’s new and we’re a new team. We’re into the second half of the season now. Hopefully, we’re going to have a turning point.”
Buys just wants Kvinsland to be wherever she can have the biggest impact on the game.
“Because she’s so critical, I’m trying to find the spot where she can have the biggest impact and raise the game of everybody,” Buys said. “When we’re losing games and we need someone to shoot, it’s, ‘Jolene, are you going to be our goal scorer?’ Just trying to figure out where we can put her, given the chemistry and other talents of the players that we have.”
Playing her at forward challenged Kvinsland because of her natural tendency to float back into the midfield instead of staying up top. So Buys moved her to center back, where she can be the “stopper” and still pick her times to get forward.
“When we transition to that stopper, she can win those balls in the air and help the defense, and also release from the marking and doing those other things,” Buys said. “I like it the best, personally.”
The coach might be alone on this one.
“She doesn’t like it,” Buys said with a laugh.
Fitness has been a big emphasis for Buys, and Kvinsland has noticed the difference from a year ago.
“We’ve worked a lot on fitness,” Buys said. “It’s a brand new team and so far she’s doing a pretty great job, even though the results aren’t what we want. She’s been great.”
Buys just wants to see the team improve every day.
“I think chemistry is the biggest thing,” Buys said. “Traditionally, they’ve had a lot of really talented players and didn’t need to rely on being a team and working together because individually, they had a higher skillset. This team, the chemistry piece does matter. We don’t have as many players that have the ability like (Jolene), to just take a game by themselves. One person never beats 10. We need all 10 to be functioning in order to do that.”
Making everyone feel included has been another area of emphasis for Buys, regardless of whether players are on the varsity squad or JV.
“We’re a program, it doesn’t matter to us which team you’re on,” Buys said. “You’re important and you all play a role in helping any team succeed. I hope at the end of the day, every kid says, ‘I’m a part of Peninsula soccer.’ That’s what we’re doing.”