Being handed a team that just lost 14 seniors might feel like a death sentence for some new coaches, but new Lake Washington soccer coach Suzanne Hart has a good feeling about this bunch.
Part of that reason is that on this team there’s no lack of leadership. Even after losing the big group of seniors, there are 10 more this season and Hart said when the team voted for captains before the season, nine different individuals received votes.
As a new coach, having a strong senior core is a lifesaver for Hart. The older players helped her get to know everyone on the team, and also helped with the small things like organizing fundraisers and ordering t-shirts.
“I’ve been asking them what worked last year and what didn’t,” Hart said. “Being able to go to them for advice on what would make this team better has been great.”
Hart is certainly familiar with Kangs’ league and competition. She grew up in Woodinville, played at Woodinville High School and the University of Washington. She teaches at Ben Franklin Junior High and was ecstatic to earn her first coaching job.
“It’s been my dream for some time to coach high school soccer,” Hart said. “And I wanted to coach at a nearby school, so it is a great fit.”
The Kangs are building from the back of the field this season with what Hart calls a “fabulous backline,” with senior goalkeeper Bri Jackson holding down the fort and senior Alix Boyd a star at defender. Jackson, Boyd and Kate Rasmussen are the three senior captains of the team.
Boyd, Rasmussen and freshman Emma Holm will all spend time at defender.
Hart said the team has talented midfielders and fast forwards, they simply need to work on fundamentals and getting more shots on goal.
Sophomore Jordan Masters and freshman Jessica Zogg will play at the midfielder spot and play a big role in how far the Kangs go this season.
So while the defense is the strength, the offense is talented and developing.
“We’re all there for the same reason,” Hart said. “Each game we keep improving a ton.”
Freshman Cassie Lively, freshman Kate Bebee, Holm and Zogg all give Hart and the Kangs hope for a bright future.
The Kangs are 1-2-3 overall and 0-1-2 in the KingCo through Oct. 1. That put them in second place in the Crown division, and tied for the seventh-best record in the conference.
The top six teams in the league move on to the playoffs, but the that is no easy group to make. The KingCo is considered the state’s toughest conference, with the two past 4A state champions residing in it.
“Every team we’re going to play is good,” Hart said. “But I think the reason why they’re state champions is because of the other teams in the league that give them a run for their money and make them work each time out.”
Despite what Hart labeled as a “reloading year,” she wants the Kangs to make the playoffs this season. For the Kangs to do so, they need to beat a top-echelon team in the conference in order to move into that group.
“That’s one of our missions,” she said. “We’re playing to win and move on to the next level, no matter what’s in front of us.”
Adam McFadden can be reached at email@example.com or 425-255-3484, ext. 5054.