Last season started well for the Oak Harbor soccer team, but the year quickly fell off its foundation and the Wildcats couldn’t recover their footing.
Oak Harbor opened the year with a tie and a win, then 14 losses followed. Now, first-year coach Mike Lonborg is trying to form the Wildcats into a team that can handle the weight of the Western Conference.
“We are planning on taking one step at a time and trying to build on each success we have,” Lonborg said. “We have a long ways to go to get where we want to be and the girls are working hard toward those goals.”
He added, “What we need to do … to turn things around is get back to basics. We need to work on the little things and build from the base up, and we need to eliminate mistakes and avoid injuries.”
Lonborg will have a strong base to build upon with 11 returning letter winners: seniors Chelsea Atkinson, Faith Franssen and Kyndra Sherman; juniors Lauryn Plush, Makenzie Perry, Rebecca Pabona, Haley Lundstrom, Jacalyn Hefflefinger, Nalani Gabbert and Alyssa Eden; and sophomore Ayla Muller.
Plush was a second-team, all-Wesco choice and Perry honorable mention last fall.
Junior Paige Waterman and freshman Jennifer Turnek are also pushing for playing time, according to Lonborg.
Another positive, Lonborg said, is that Oak Harbor has “more girls playing club-level soccer year round than ever before.”
He added that the incoming freshman class is talented, but “it’s going to take some time before they are ready for the varsity team.”
Lack of depth, he said, is going to be an issue.
Lonborg expects perennial power Everett to continue to be the team to beat in the Wesco North.
Oak Harbor begins the season with the Whidbey showdown. The Wildcats go to South Whidbey at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 10, and then host Coupeville at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12.