Fall preview: Oak Harbor High School soccer

Starting a new season and entering a new division should help erase some of the negatives from last year for the Oak Harbor High School girls soccer team.

The Wildcats were winless in 2009, but with a large group of returning players and some strong newcomers, Oak Harbor should be more competitive this year.

Coach Jeff Laiblin was encouraged by the improvement of his team’s play the second half of last season in spite of injuries to some key players. He called his club “a wonderful group of ladies.”

Laiblin has high expectations for this fall’s team. He looks for the Wildcats to capture a spot in the playoffs and expects his squad to “put forth a quality effort every game.”

He also said he has “high expectations for our new players, as we feel they will fill gaps we had last year.”

Those new varsity players include senior Katie Duhrkopf, junior Jessica Burns, sophomore Sarah Young and freshmen Chelsea Atkinson and Annie Leete.

Laiblin will blend the newcomers with 12 veterans: seniors Clarissa Abadesco, Jordan Boucher, Kiah Ching, Morgan Dutton, Millie Goebel, Kaitlyn O’Neill, Bri Peterson and Brighton Pruss; junior Maura McKole; and sophomores Ashley Everett, Jember Jansen and McKenzie Schneider.

Boucher is returning after missing a year because of a knee injury, and she along with Abadesco and Goebel will serve as team captains.

Laiblin said, “We are going to be stronger this season in both the offensive and defensive sides of our game.  We also have a veteran team that is ready to prove that we are better than our results from last season showed.”

The Wildcat coach likes the switch to 3A: “This will from the start narrow the gap we faced last season.”

Laiblin sees Everett and Glacier Peak as the preseason favorites. The Seagulls played with Oak Harbor in the Wesco North last year and won the division with a 16-0 record. Glacier Peak, from the Wesco South, defeated Everett in the playoffs.

Oak Harbor plays its first match at Mariner Tuesday, Sept 7, and then hosts Shorecrest in the first league match Thursday, Sept. 9; both games begin at 7:30.

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