The play wasn’t always pretty and there were times when the clock seemed to stand still against the backdrop of a resplendent oil-slick sunset on Thursday night. After four hours of warmups, free kicks and stoppage time here at Tiger Stadium, though, eight prep soccer teams were all successful in getting some much needed run against a fleet of unrelated foes.
The hometown Tigers played host to W.F. West, Rochester (2A), Tenino, Raymond-South Bend (1A), Toledo, Adna, and Napavine (2B) for their season kickstarting jamboree. Each team took to the field twice for a pair of 20 minute contests against two different teams. Scores were kept but they were mostly beside the point as coaches and players were primarily focused on becoming more familiar with each other in a game-like setting.
Centralia coach Henry Gallanger provided some much needed perspective for spectators who might not have known what to make of the soccer smorgasbord.
“We use the jamboree as basically some time for some of our players who are on the bubble or who need some extra fitness. Only three varsity starters were in there tonight but I thought they did pretty well for the limited knowledge that they have,” explained Gallanger. “I have a whole bunch of seniors coming back so I didn’t need to see them and I wasn’t eager to risk injuries.”
Centralia faced Napavine in a Tiger on Tiger affair to get the show started and the big cats battled to a scoreless tie. Napavine held possession for most of the contest but Centralia still managed to post the best highlight thanks to some shoddy shoelace work. That loose end came back to bite the Tigers when freshman forward Kassidy Speck ran right out of her cleat while attempting to chase down a long pass that would have set up Centralia’s best scoring opportunity.
Rochester and the Raymond/South Bend Riptide took over the pitch next with the Warriors claiming a 1-0 advantage at the end of the period. That score came on a 25-yard dead ahead boot by midfielder Sufina Ahmath and the Warriors managed to set up several other high percentage scoring opportunities that just didn’t pan out before full time. After sitting out a couple of matches Rochester was back on the field against Toledo to cap off their jamboree experience. The Warriors, who boasted just two substitute players on the day, again emerged with a 1-0 advantage when the final whistle blew, and again the score came off the power foot of Ahmath.
Observing the action from the press box, Centralia’s Gallanger said he expects Rochester will put up a dogged effort again this season, especially on the offensive end.
“They’ve got Sufina and she’s always been a thorn in my side every time we play them. I love the way she plays,” Gallanger noted, adding that the Warriors also appear to have some young talent coming up through the ranks.
Tenino and W.F. West took to the field in the third tilt of the evening with the Beavers chomping off an abbreviated 1-0 victory. That score came off the foot of defender Alivia Hunter on a free kick seven minutes into the action. The Beavers also showed off some deft passing in the open field and set up several other scoring opportunities that just missed their mark during the tilt with the Bearcats.
Again, Gallanger provided some overhead perspective for the on field happenings.
“W.F. West is all JV players so whatever we see tonight isn’t going to mean anything,” said Centralia’s coach. “They’ll be strong. (Allen Anderson is) like us where he’s got some gaps to fill and some young players. And he’s just like us with injuries and all that kind of stuff so I think we’ll be pretty close with them this year.”
The young Bearcats faced Toledo in the second to last contest of the evening and settled for a scoreless tie. That result left Toledo coach Noel Vazquez feeling encouraged for what the fledgling season may hold for his team.
“I’m very fortunate this year to have enough girls for two teams so I was able to work our varsity against W.F. West. I believe it was their JV but you know what, I think their JV could probably compete in the 2B against anybody,” Vazquez said. “We were able to get a couple of shots on target. They didn’t get any on us. We controlled most of the game so I’m pretty content with the way the girls have been progressing.”
Vazquez noted that he has 13 varsity players and ten junior varsity players this year and quite a bit of experience returning to the fold as his team prepares for what promises to be an extended playoff push.
“Two of my captains are seniors. They are both defenders so they are going to take care of business,” noted Vazquez. “Alyssa Gaskill and Caitlin Olson, they are my two centerbacks. They are strong and fast and they’re not afraid of anything with one on one situations.”
Vazquez added that senior Kaylee Veigle will don the goalie gloves and long sleeves this season while Marina Smith, Grace Tauscher, Jazzy Zarate, and Rose Dillon will fill in on the offensive end. Vasquez added that Maryssa Peters scored 10 goals last year to help her team sneak into the playoffs. This year, he expects Peters to put at least 15 shots into the back of the net.
“I think the biggest thing that we can improve on is just our positioning on the field. Sometimes we leave some big gaps where they can drop some passes in,” conceded Vazquez.
Raymond-South Bend and Napavine faced off against one another in what was the second contest of the night for each team with the Tigers claiming a 2-0 victory. The first goal came on a streaking breakaway by Makensee Taliaferro in the fourth minute. A point blank laser beam to the top-right corner by Chloe Stewart during stoppage time was the exclamation point.
Regardless of that offensive success the Tigers suffered a serious blow to their prospects when Halee Williams went down with what appeared to be a serious knee injury in the 16th minute.
“Unfortunately it looked like Napavine probably lost one of their better players to a knee injury. That’s unfortunate,” Vazquez said of his team’s league rival. “They were tough last year but had trouble finishing. They took it to Raymond/South Bend pretty good though so they must be cleaning up some things.”
Adna got in on two of the final three matches of the night, settling for a scoreless tie with Tenino before putting away a mixed Centralia squad 2-0 to end the evening. Sticking with the one-off nature of the friendly jamboree, Adna allowed their stalwart goalkeeper Makaela Meister to come out of the goalie box against the Tigers so she could see what the other end of the field looks like. Meister made the most of her opportunity by notching a close-range goal in the fourth minute. Reigning C2BL Offensive MVP Payton Aselton punched in a score of her own in the 11th minute for good measure.
Vazquez said he expects the Pirates will once again be at the top of the league right alongside Kalama thanks to their senior laden roster. However, he believes the middle of the pack could be in for some topsy turvy positioning in the standings.
“You just never know. Ocosta’s always there. Ony made a run last year. We were really young last year but my girls have been putting in a lot of work this summer so I’m pretty confident that we’ll be in the top five or hopefully higher and kind of shake things up this year,” Vazquez said.
As for the host Tigers, Gallanger is the first to admit that his team has a few question marks to figure out but he believes the cornerstones are already in place to set up a successful season. He noted that Hannah Robbins played on Thursday in an important step as she returns from an ACL injury. He also pointed out the formidable play of his varsity center backs, Taylor Smith and Kupria Lapierre and insisted that several other players appear to be ready to step up their game this season.
“Carissa Kaut and Rebecca Robbins are both poised to really step up and do some good things for us. All of my seniors are hungry. They’re ready to roll. You’re talking Kupria Lapierre, Jovanah Navarro, Aaliyah Corona, Savannah Hankins. These are all girls who have played varsity for me for four years so that’s a big deal for us,” Gallanger said. “And anyone who’s been paying attention over the years knows that I’m not afraid to roll a freshman or two out there.”