It’s all starting to come together for the Emerald Ridge High girls soccer team as it enters the second month of the season tied for third place in the 4A South Puget Sound League South Division.
After a strong finish last year, the Jaguars entered the 2015 season with high hopes and even greater expectations. And after a solid start, Emerald Ridge (4-4-1, 3-2 league) sits in third, tied with Graham-Kapowsin (4-4, 3-2).
“I think we’re in a good position right now,” captain Reily Treat said. “We’re just focused on the game in front of us, but we want to get (back) to the playoffs.”
Don’t let Emerald Ridge’s first-month record be the barometer of what this Jaguar team is and will be for the rest of the season. These Jags are better than their record states.
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Emerald Ridge’s losses have come against SPSL Northeast’s Todd Beamer (2-1, Sept. 8), Northwest’s Kentridge (3-0, Sept. 12) and league foes Curtis (2-1, Sept. 15) and Puyallup (2-1, Sept. 24).
Beamer (8-1, 5-1 league), Kentridge (8-0, 6-0) and Curtis (8-1, 5-1) each lead their respective divisions with Puyallup (5-2-2, 4-1) a game ahead of Emerald Ridge in the league standings.
“What it means is that we’re close,” coach Dan Stueckle said. “Right now we’re still trying to figure out who we are as a team. We got some young girls and a strong group of seniors ... it’s just a matter of matching up that younger group with the older group, and have them play as a unit.”
No game better represents what Emerald Ridge is capable of than the Jaguars’ 5-0 victory over Spanaway Lake on Oct. 1 at Art Crate Stadium.
Coming into the season, it was always going to be about two stories for Emerald Ridge: How good can the midfield be and can the younger players step up.
Last Thursday, both questions were answered as it was the midfield that dominated the Sentinels from start to finish, while the fresh faces scored four of the Jaguar goals.
Freshman Katie Matthews got the scoring going in the 9th minute, followed by goals from sophomore Karlee Stueckle (17th minute), Mareonna Henderson (60) and Kahilu Hoopii (76).
“I’m really excited about the younger girls on the team,” Treat, a senior, said. “They have shown a lot of talent, and play hard out there — you don’t expect that from younger players.”
The lone goal outside the younger crowd came off the foot of Tatum Marshall, who found an opening when Stueckle dribbled too deep into the box.
As Stueckle made a cutback, she sent a rocket of a pass to Marshall that was one-timed into the bottom post of the net, giving Emerald Ridge a 3-0 lead.
“I just saw Karlee run too far into the box and I just ran up and yelled for her to pass me the ball,” Marshall said. “I don’t think she knew how fast she was going as she beat everyone in the back.”
After that goal, coach Stueckle moved daughter Karlee from her usual position as a forward and placed her in the Jaguars back line.
The move was to help bolster the defense’s speed and see if versatility reigns.
“We played a different formation tonight,” Dan Stueckle said. “She played upfront for the first part of it, and then we switched it up moved the girls around a little bit to positions they don’t normally (play).”
That move is still a wait-and-see decision, but it never hurts to add a little versatility.