The 2016 season was a charmed one for Bonney Lake High School’s girls soccer team and Kaylee Coatney.
The Panthers made the 3A playoffs and Coatney, a freshman adjusting to a new position, was named the Pierce County League’s MVP.
The expectations for this season? Off the charts.
“You feel with a young team like that, they’re learning every day,” coach Wayne Farris said. “We started slow, but we had some nice surprises along the way. We started peaking toward the end and that’s always a nice place to peak.”
The wins have come again in 2017. But Farris has had to field a lineup without Coatney, who pulled up with calf injury in the season opener. The diagnosis was a minor strain which should keep her out for just a handful of games.
If all goes well for her recovery, Coatney said she should be cleared for Thursday’s game in Bonney Lake against Stadium. That bodes well for the Panthers, who started their season 3-0, including a dominant 7-0 win over Mount Tahoma with their best player sidelined.
Farris, understandably, is looking forward to having the player who scored 26 goals and dished 14 assists to the attack in her first high school season.
“She’s got such great field vision. She’s so good as distributing the ball,” Farris said. “When she’s surrounded by other attacking players, she’s at her best distributing to them.”
The role of scorer and play-maker was new to Coatney. For her club teams, she played defensive oriented positions.
But last year, the Panthers were young and had little experience, and Farris had to get creative. So he slotted Coatney into the attacking midfielder role in his team’s 4-5-1 formation.
“Wayne put me up front because he saw my shot early on,” Coatney joked.
The result was even better than either player or coach had hoped for. Coatney looked right at home directing traffic in the attacking half.
It was enough to take Bonney Lake to a 12-2-3 record. It reached the postseason but lost in a shootout to Peninsula, 6-5, in a winner-to-state, loser-out match.
But the foundation was set. And Coatney was selected as a first-team all-state midfielder by the coaches association (the only freshman in the 3A classification to make the first team).
“It was an amazing feeling, I was so shocked,” Coatney said of her 2016 season. “It was just all my hard work paying off. I came out expecting to play as hard as I could and that’s what happened.”
The position switch took some adjustment on Coatney’s part, where a defensive role better fit her shy personality on the field.
“I don’t necessarily like taking people one-on-one,” she said. “I definitely had to come out of my comfort zone and push myself because that’s my role.”
Her role is going to change some again this season. Now a sophomore, and one who’s experience success and a playoff run, Coatney is expected to be one of the team’s leaders.
“I’ve spent some one-on-one time with her and my goal this year is to see her expand her leadership,” Farris said. “She’s a natural leader, but more comfortable leading with actions. She’s not the rah-rah type, but there are some things we can teach her and she’s willing to learn.”
That’s right where Farris wants her: A little out of her comfort zone, on the field, leading the way.
“I’ll tell you one thing, I really believe in her,” he said. “And not just as a player, but as a person. I’ll do anything I can to help her succeed.”