Gig Harbor girls soccer off to unbeaten start
The Gig Harbor girls soccer team is once again dominating opponents with a smothering defense and a potent offense.
This year’s team is 4-0 and has outscored their opponents by a combined score of 17-0. It was more of the same on Tuesday, Sept. 20, when Gig Harbor beat Timberline 8-0 in Lacey.
A winning tradition
Winning big is becoming the norm for this program led by third-year head coach Katie Bennett, who has compiled a 34-3-2 record with the Tides.
Last year’s team dominated the South Sound Conference, going undefeated at 14-0. They won the West Central District championship, entered state as the No. 1 overall seed and eventually finished fourth in the 3A classification, with a 19-2 record.
Many players from that team got a taste of the semifinals and are hungry to show even better this season.
“I am excited about the season,” Bennett said. “We have a great group of returners who all really get on well with one another. It has been fun to watch them come together.”
Shutout after shutout
They started the season with back-to-back 4-0 shutouts over Yelm and River Ridge. They had a tough time finding the goal against Central Kitsap, but their defense was stifling again in a 1-0 victory.
Bennett felt the Tides controlled the ball and tempo in their first three games but struggled a bit to find the back of the net. The Tides fired 96 shots on goal, while netting only nine. She was very happy with her defense, which allowed only five shots on goal during three games.
Bennett and her experienced staff practiced hard after the Central Kitsap game, emphasizing the importance of taking advantage of their scoring opportunities. The Tides responded on Tuesday.
Gig Harbor got three goals from forward Elise Miller, two goals each from forwards Anne Seim and Sophie Blake, and an unassisted goal from Samantha Huber. Miller and Huber each contributed two assists.
Meet the squad
The Tides have the luxury of two capable and trusted goalkeepers in Jordan Flaherty and Ella Conrad. They split halves against the Blazers.
The Tides are captained by Huber, Seim and Hailey Burris. Huber returned this year after missing last season with an ACL injury and has been impressive in the early going.
Junior midfielder Blake was a second-team All-SSC selection last year. Junior defender Sarah Ehler, a tenacious and skilled defender who bird-dogs opponents, was honorable-mention All-SSC last year. Miller introduced herself last year as a freshman forward who can score in bunches and also earned honorable mention All-SSC.
The Tides’ defensive back line of Addy Seher, Sarah Ehler and Ella Gardner are tough to get past. Only allowing seven shots on goal in four games is almost unheard of and has definitely frustrated opponents.
The midfield combination of Burris, Blake and MaryAnn Berosh are “some of the best in the state” according to Bennett. They can defend, score or advance the ball to their talented forward combination of Huber and Miller.
The team has also received contributions from Kennedy Marler, who has a goal and an assist on the season, and Elizabeth Hayes, has also chipped in with a goal. Eleah Ho and Aejanae Humphrey are talented and showing well in practice as it is highly competitive to even make the varsity team at Gig Harbor.
The Tides also have a wildcard in defender Riley Peschek, who was all-league in softball and basketball a year ago and just signed an NCAA Division I offer to play softball at Montana. She plays with a physical and aggressive style and may help down the stretch defending strong, attacking forwards.
Youth programs feed Gig Harbor girls soccer
This area has enjoyed an abundance of soccer victories over the years with Gig Harbor’s dominance over SSC opponents and Peninsula reaching the round of 16 at state last year. Several factors have contributed to that success but one definitely is the vast opportunities that players have in local club team play as youngsters.
The youth soccer programs of Gig Harbor are continuing to churn out prospects at a steady rate. Bennett takes the skills that have been taught at an early age and refines and enhances those abilities. She now oversees one of the top female high school programs in the state.
“We are lucky that there are programs in the Harbor that gets kids involved in soccer at an early age,” Bennett said. “It is often the first team sport that children are introduced to. Many of these girls have played since they were three years old.”
Gig Harbor girls soccer looks to carry on their winning ways against Capital at 7 p.m. Sept. 22 at Roy Anderson Field in Purdy. They play at North Thurston on Sept. 27 before facing SSC co-leader Peninsula Seahawks (4-0 SSC, 5-1 overall) at 7 p.m. Sept. 30 at Roy Anderson Field.