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Four teams should make some noise
By CASEY OLSON
A Federal Way High School legend is back on the sideline.
Justi Baumgardt, a 1991 Eagle graduate, enters her first season as the coach of the Federal Way girls soccer program. Baumgardt played in college at the University of Portland and just finished up her season with the New York Power of the professional Womens United Soccer Association.
She takes over a program that put together a pretty solid season last year, finishing 12-5-4 in the South Puget Sound League South Division and advancing to the state playoffs after a win over the No. 1-ranked Bellarmine Prep Lions in the West Central District tournament. The Eagles eventually lost to Eastlake in the quarterfinals.
But the introduction of Baumgardt and a veteran squad has everybody optimistic about the Eagles chances this season.
We have a solid core group of returners, Baumgardt said. I feel we will be strong and organized in the back and will have a solid central midfield.
Playing the back will be juniors Rachel Christenson, Mandy Ploskonka and Christina Ruiz. Providing the scoring punch for the Eagles will be forwards Ashlyn White and Brittany Bennett and the midfield will be patrolled by senior Hannah Bridges and freshman Bree Rowe.
If we can change a few habits and grasp a new style of play quickly, we might surprise a few people, Baumgardt said.
The Thomas Jefferson Raiders return to the SPSL South as the defending champions. The Raiders rolled through the 2002 regular season with a 12-1-3 record, which was one point better than second-place Curtis.
Coach Amy Sutherland returns several players from last year, including senior captains Nicole Pressnall and Lindsay Radford. Also back are senior forward Rachael Maus, sophomore midfielder Christa Bingham, sophomore Cameo Grubbs and sophomore Michelle Mohn, among others.
Sutherland also brings in a talented group of freshmen this season, highlighted by forward Melissa Hicks, who is the Raiders leading scorer in the preseason. Other freshmen include defender Kasie Casteneda, Michelle Borth, Kelsey Racicot, Shannon Hilby, Brittany Creek and Brittany McKay.
The Gators return several players from a team that lost to Federal Way in a shootout in a loser-out, one-game playoff to determine which team would be the SPSL Souths No. 4-seed into the playoffs. Decatur finished the regular season 8-4-4.
Coach Brandon Frederick enters his sixth season at the helm of the Gators and will be counting on a strong defense and many key returners from last years squad.
We should compete for a top spot in the SPSL South, Frederick said.
The defense will be highlighted by junior goalkeeper Kristen Johnson. Also back will be captain Clare Brown, senior Caitlin Britt, junior Leanna Pomeroy and freshman Kelsey Lusebrink on the defense. Frederick will be counting on captains Brittany Gilmer and Amanda Font in the midfield and well as sophomore Amanda Murphy. Providing the scoring punch for the Gators will be senior Nicole Collins and freshman Jordann Gilmer.
Beamer officials made a solid hire when they got Carrie Boers to take over the Titan soccer program after leading Federal Way High School to the final-eight teams in the state a year ago.
Its an exciting thing weve got going on right now, Boers said. A brand new high school with little or no expectations from anyone in the league.
Boers will be counting on a group which includes only two players with varsity high school experience. Sophomores Ashley La Rose and Amanda Claunch both played for Boers at Federal Way a year ago La Rose as a starter.
It is going to be a year of growth and discovery, Boers said. These girls dont really know what to expect, but they are ready to face the challenge.
The Titans will rely on strong goal keeping and outworking other teams on the field.
Although we are young, weve got size, Boers said. Not only have we got some great soccer players, but some excellent all-around athletes.
Other strong players should be sophomores Rachel Thatcher, Courtney Weinman and Jessica Hunley, and freshmen Kelli Calvin and Nikki Mills.
Weve got nothing to lose and everything to gain, Boers said. Weve got an outstanding group of young ladies that have really worked hard this summer and are putting every little thing they have into this program.
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, email@example.com.