Hard work and mental toughness are the answers. The question is how can Juanita overcome a tradition of losing and climb up the ranks of the new KingCo?
Juanita coach Jimmy Holliday said there was definitely a culture of losing when he arrived on the scene before the 2007 season. Since then, the goal has been making the Rebels believe they can win games.
“It’s been difficult because we’ve had a tradition of not winning,” said senior goalkeeper Katharine Boone. “It’s hard to get over the past, but we’re more focused this year.”
Juanita is led by 13 seniors and for them, the time to win is now.
“This is a senior-laden team and the expectations to do well are definitely there,” Holliday said.
One factor that will help the team is the KingCo shuffle, moving Juanita down to 3A — where it belongs according to school population. The going was tough in the KingCo 4A last season, contributing to a 2-11-3 Juanita record. Three teams from the league played in the state tournament (Eastlake, Redmond and Woodinville) and went a combined 8-2. Eastlake won the state title and Woodinville placed third.
“The move to 3A should help us be more competitive,” Holliday said. “The girls sure worked their tails off for this year.”
So far in 2008 it looks like this team can certainly compete with anyone if things are going right. The Rebels played through much of their season opener against Eastlake to a 0-0 draw until the Wolves put up a score in the second half. Holliday said the team then had a lapse in concentration and got down on itself, giving up three late goals in a period of 10 minutes.
“We just have to work on remaining mentally tough for 80 minutes,” Holliday said.
In the three games since then, the Rebels have given up a total of two goals and stand with a record of 0-2-2, including ties to Inglemoor and Lake Washington.
The Rebels’ next chance to pick up a win is Sept. 25 at Interlake (2-2) in the conference opener for Juanita. For Boone and the other 12 seniors, there’s no going at the 2008 season halfway.
“The ultimate goal is to make it to state,” she said. “I’m really excited for this season. The team is meshing so well.”
On defense, Boone mans the goal. “I have to be the vocal leader from back there, since I have the best viewpoint of anyone on the field,” Boone said of her role on the team. This is her third varsity season and she will move on to play at the University of Dayton next year.
Other seniors helping on defense are Shelby Herber, Candace Haghighi (who might play some midfield as well) and Andrea Musa. The group has performed well so far, allowing just six goals in four games.
Leading the offensive attack are senior forwards Cary Biggs, Natalie Dean, along with senior midfielders Ashley Dunn and Stephanie Hassel.
Underclassmen expected to play a role include sophomore midfielder Tori Lee and junior defender Kajsa Sporseen. Sporseen made the KingCo all-league first team last season, while Boone made the second team and Herber made honorable mention.
For Holliday and the Rebels, the way to solve the Rebels’ problems and become a contender is easy, just work hard.
“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,” Holliday said.
After this season when the team loses so many seniors, Holliday expects to truly see how he’s done with the program next season (his third).
“We’re losing a lot of girls,” he said. “So we’ll see my effect on the program next year. We’ll see how the turnout is.”
Adam McFadden can be reached at email@example.com or 425-255-3484, ext. 5054.