Girls soccer: Beamer and TJ hope to repeat SPSL division titles; Decatur also solid

The Todd Beamer Titans rolled through the South Puget Sound League South Division last season. The Titans finished undefeated in league play with a 13-0-1 record.

But the postseason wasn’t too kind to Beamer. The Titans were beaten by Jefferson in the SPSL title game to earn the league’s second seed into the West Central District Tournament. The Titans were upset by Decatur, the third-place team from the North Division, at districts. The disappointing loss ended their season.

But the 2006 postseason might add a little more fire to this year’s version of the Titans, who are the prohibited favorite to win the South Division championship again.

Beamer returns 10 of its 11 starters, including a pair of players that have already signed letters of intent to play next year in college. Forward Jordan Salisbury has inked with Seattle University and defender Nicole Peterson will play at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. Salisbury had 10 goals last season and Peterson tallied eight from the backline.

Also back this year for the Titans are Brittany Orr, who led Beamer with 13 goals last season, Holland Crook (nine goals), Megan Miller (six goals, three assists), Jordan Crook (three goals, five assists), Jessica Niewoehner, Mackenzie Hickel, Kaylee Huie (five goals) and goalkeeper Maia Kurnik (three shutouts).

Also helping out is a pair of freshmen in Avery Salisbury and Tiarra Fentress.

“We have a deep bench and loads of talent,” said head coach Carrie Hentschell.

Beamer did get a little revenge last week when it downed Jefferson, 3-0, in a preseason game. The Titans got a pair of goals from Jordan Salisbury and another from Holland Crook. They opened their SPSL South season Tuesday against Curtis.

Thomas Jefferson Raiders

The two-time defending South Puget Sound League division champions graduated six players from last year’s 12-5-1 team, including a pair of Division I signees.

But the perennial soccer power seems primed to make another run at the North Division title again this season with a very talented group of returners and three solid sophomores.

“We graduated six seniors from the league championship team, but return a very solid core of players,” Webber said. “We should be competitive within our division, but just what that means is not clear yet.”

Back for the Raiders are seniors Sara Byrne, Amy Pate, Molly Gebhardt, Kendall Swynenburg, Kaitlin Thomas and Mallory Murray, juniors Kelsey Learned, Liz Fitch and Jasmine Sharpe.

Swynenburg is the leading returning scorer for Jefferson. As a junior, the midfielder had 10 goals. Pate tallied five goals and five assists and Murphy had four goals for the Raiders.

The biggest loss from last year should be forward Mel Hicks, who led Jefferson in scoring with 13 goals, and is currently playing at the University of Colorado. Also gone are Brittany Creek, Kelsey Racicot, Brittany McKay and Michelle Borth.

Helping out with those losses will be sophomores Hayley Albrecht, Victoria Walsh and Mariko Hamashima. Albrecht and Walsh are both forwards, and Hamashima is a midfielder.

“If we can develop the ability to attack with some regularity and finish the chances we are capable of finishing, we will be a very solid team,” Webber said.

Decatur Gators

The Gators were the surprise team out of the South Puget Sound League last season. Decatur finished in third place in the North Division and was 10-5-4 entering the postseason. But that’s when the Gators turned it on.

In last year’s playoffs, Decatur downed Curtis, Beamer and Jackson before losing to Woodinville in the Class 4A State Tournament quarterfinals in overtime, 3-2.

Second-year coach Christy Gross hopes to build on last year’s postseason success and returns a lot of talented players. Leading the list of returners are seniors Jenna Peterson, Cristina Valenzuela, Kelsey Disbrow, Laura Bressler and Kaelyn Kanesta and junior Sarah Isaac. Bressler led the Gators in scoring with nine goals and five assists, and Isaac contributed five goals and four assists. Kanesta had eight shutouts in goal for the Gators.

Gross also brings in a talented group of freshmen this season, led by defender Lauren Whybrew and goalkeeper Kayla Lipston. Also, sophomore Rachel Markey will be a solid addition in the midfield.

“We have an outstanding mix of youth and experience this season,” Gross said.

The season hasn’t started out too good for the Gators his year. Decatur has been outscored 8-0 in a pair of non-league losses to Central Kitsap and Seattle Prep. The Gators opened their SPSL North season last night against Kent-Meridian.

“They are working well with one another, encouraging one another,” Gross said. “Nothing is perfect but they’re a step ahead of where most teams are at this point. We have to stay healthy and have fun.”

Federal Way Eagles

The Eagles finished in the middle of the pack last year in the South Puget Sound League North Division with a 6-7-3 overall record. And, according to head coach Jason Baumgardt, that’s where he sees this year’s edition of Federal Way soccer finishing again.

The Eagles return four solid players in seniors Kaitlyn Keyes and Briana D’Aguiar, junior Alleah Pac and sophomore Kendal Feider. Keyes had five goals last year.

But Baumgardt was surprised on the first day of turnout at Federal Way High School. Freshman Hailey Ward is the only ninth-grader to even turn out this season for Federal Way and the Eagles didn’t have enough players to even field a junior varsity team. This is the first year that teams in the district are being allowed to field a JV roster.

“We only had 16 girls out this year — 15 of which played last season,” said Baumgardt. “We will have to see if more come out next season.”

The Eagles lost their opener this season to Beamer, 2-1, but bounced back with a win over Sumner. Federal Way got goals from Feider and Molly Campbell.

“We have to become better at team defending,” Baumgardt said. “We have some individuals that defend well but overall the team defense needs to improve. If we can acheive that, then we can be successful.”

Federal Way opened its SPSL North season last night against Kentwood.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565,

Todd Beamer Titans

Coach: Carrie Hentschell (fifth year)

Last year’s record: 13-0-1 (first in SPSL South)

Strong returners: Soph. Holland Crook (F), Jr. Megan Miller (F), Sr. Brittany Orr (MF/F), Sr. Nicole Peterson (D), Sr. Jordan Salisbury (D/F), Sr. Jordan Crook (MF), Soph. Jessica Niewoehner (D), Soph. Mackenzie Hickel (D), Soph. Kaylee Huie (MF) and Sr. Maia Kurnik (D/GK)

Top newcomers: Fr. Avery Salisbury (D/F) and Fr. Tiarra Fentress (D)

Decatur Gators

Coach: Christy Gross (second year)

Last year’s record: 7-3-4 (third in North)

Strong returners: Sr. Jenna Peterson (sweeper), Sr. Cristina Valenzuela (D), Sr. Laura Bressler (F), Jr. Sarah Isaac (MF/D) and Kaelyn Kanesta (GK)

Top newcomers: Fr. Lauren Whybrew (D), Fr. Kayla Lipston (GK) and Soph. Rachel Markey (MF)

Federal Way Eagles

Coach: Jason Baumgardt (fourth year)

Last year’s record: 5-6-3 (sixth in North)

Strong returners: Sr. Kaitlyn Keyes (MF), Jr. Alleah Pac (MF), Sr. Briana D’Aguiar (F) and Soph. Kendal Feider (MF)

Top newcomer: Fr. Haley Ward (MF)

Thomas Jefferson Raiders

Coach: Wade Webber (first year)

Last year’s record: 10-3-1 (first in North)

Strong returners: Sr. Sara Byrne (D), Sr. Amy Pate (F), Sr. Molly Gebhardt (MF), Sr. Ashley Brough (MF), Sr. Kendall Swynenberg (F), Sr. Kaitlin Thomas (D), Sr. Mallory Murray (MF), Jr. Kelsey Learned (D), Jr. Liz Fitch (GK) and Jr. Jasmine Sharpe (D)

Top newcomers: Soph. Hayley Albrecht (F), Soph. Victoria Walsh (F) and Soph. Mariko Hamashima (MF)

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