Carlee Betterman’s first goal of the season was a memorable one. After the Lake Washington High senior forward volleyed the ball into the back of the net off a corner kick, she experienced a “rush of happiness,” she said with a wide smile before practice on Monday afternoon.
The goal arrived during the Kangs’ tough season-opening 1-0 victory over Bishop Blanchet, and the locals followed that match with three more shutout wins.
“It was super exciting to just start off this season with a bang,” said Betterman, who began the 2017 campaign with four goals and two assists. At press time, the Kangs had yet to concede a goal and were 2-0-0 in 3A KingCo and 4-0-0 overall.
Betterman added that the Kangs’ motto is to play solid ball in both 18-yard boxes on the offensive and defensive ends of the pitch.
Battening down the hatches on defense have been goalkeepers Cassady Barnes, a senior, and Natalie Neils, a freshman, along with senior center back Megan McCarthy and outside backs Savannah Jones (junior), Kelli McCarthy (junior) and Ashley Mead (freshman).
“Every single person, I trust everyone’s tackles, everyone is always super strong back there,” said Megan McCarthy, adding that the defenders are organized, they communicate well and are a tight-knit group. “It’s really nice being comfortable with the people you play with in the back line.”
LW possesses some strong midfielders in senior Gracie Sturdevant and juniors Taryn Chisolm and Haimanot Hanson, according to third-year coach Ashton Griffen.
Sturdevant has dished off some assists this year and the former forward is fitting into her new midfield position well. Betterman said that Sturdevant is a playmaker, helping bring the ball up from the back and getting the forwards into action.
In her fourth year on the squad, Sturdevant said she’s developed mental toughness and sees herself as “being the strong player and the player to look towards if we’re down a goal or if we just need a little push to get going.” The Rebel likes being in charge, she added with a laugh.
Griffen said the Kangs — who lost 1-0 in double overtime to Bellevue in the KingCo title game last year — have bonded and possess a must-win attitude.
“It’s the culture we’ve started to create here at LW that no matter who we’re playing, or what the conditions are, that we’re gonna step on the field and we’re gonna do anything at all costs to win the game,” said Griffen, adding that the Kangs focus on delivering dangerous set pieces and have scored multiple goals that way this season.
Although LW lost some top players to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, the Kangs field a strong squad and a lot of players have stepped up to fill positions, said Griffen, noting that all KingCo teams are experiencing the same situation.
“We have good chemistry, and we all get along super well off the field, so I think that plays into how we play on the field,” Betterman said.
Megan McCarthy said the Kangs’ success stems from solid training, “coming to practice ready with the right mindset, just ready to work hard then and that translates into the game.”
Top varsity returners for the Rebels are seniors Olivia Morris (captain, forward), Kennedy Jones (captain, forward/midfield), Colleen O’Neil (captain, center back), Taylor Byrne (defender/midfield), Sophia Collins (midfield/forward) and Isabella Duffield (goalkeeper who played a few varsity games last season).
Other strong returners are juniors Ellison Eason (midfield), Michela Flock-Yates (center back), Sheer Shalom (defender), Kyra Bethune (midfield) and Allyson Ingersoll (midfield/forward).
According to coaches Stefa Chow and Jacalyn Williams, “The program is looking strong this year with several returning senior leaders and juniors. In addition there are new faces who add fresh energy to the field.”
The coaches said they and the team are focused on building the program overall, creating new goals and a new outlook.
“Further, we have added some great new coaching staff with national team-level experience,” the coaches said.
The Rebels were 0-2-0 in 3A KingCo and 1-3-0 overall at press time.