Sports

The tradition is back at Federal Way

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

The girls soccer tradition at Federal Way High School has a long and storied past. Back-to-back state championships in the early ‘90s and numerous league championship banners hang proudly from the ceiling inside the school’s gym.

The blue and white pieces of cloth chronicle the rich past of Eagle soccer.

But the Federal Way girls program hasn’t unfurled one of those banners in a decade. The Eagles last South Puget Sound League South Division title happened back in 1994.

That drought will change this year. Federal Way (7-0-1 in league, 11-1-3 overall) has clinched at least a tie for the SPSL South title and could claim it outright with a win or tie today over cross-town rival Decatur. The teams play their regular season finales at noon at Federal Way Memorial Stadium.

“This is a great bunch of girls,” said first-year head coach Jason Baumgardt. “This was a team that wasn’t picked to be where we are at.”

And that feeling was shared by most of the players on the 2004 Eagle team and they are not afraid to admit they weren’t expecting to contend for the South title.

“To be honest, I didn’t,” said senior captain Megan Price, who has tallied eight goals on the year. “At tryouts I was kind of nervous.”

“I thought we would be average,” said senior center back Mandy Ploskonka, who leads the SPSL South in points with 19 (four goals, 15 assists). “We didn’t have a big turnout and we don’t have any juniors on our team.”

But with the strong regular season, which included non-league wins over Evergreen (Vancouver) and a 0-0 tie against perennial state 3A power Kennedy, those expectations have changed immensely.

“We want the ring now,” said senior sweeper Tina Ruiz. “We are going for state.”

The Eagles’ lone blemish came against Todd Beamer, 1-0, in a non-league game Sept. 21. Since that loss, Federal Way has put together a 10-match unbeaten streak.

The final score wasn’t indicative of the way Federal Way played against Beamer. The Eagles outshot the Titans 21-1, but that one shot found the back of the net.

“I think that was hard on us,” Price said about the loss to Beamer. “The second time we played them we went out with a lot of intensity.”

Federal Way avenged the loss last week with a 4-0 pasting of the Titans.

“I don’t know if that loss helped us any,” Baumgardt said. “But that’s all they talked about until we played them again.”

Despite not winning any league titles in a decade, the Eagles have had some success in the postseason. The most notable run came two years ago when Federal Way got hot at the right time and ended up fifth in Class 4A after finishing fourth in the SPSL South. So the Eagle seniors on Baumgardt’s roster know what it takes to get deep in the playoffs.

But that roster has a very strange mix. The 2004 Eagles include no juniors, nine seniors, five sophomores and six freshman.

“It was kind of hard to get everyone to bond at first,” said Ruiz. “We don’t see the younger players during the day. The freshmen kind of have their own area of the school. So (the seniors) would organize pizza parties and other stuff.”

The player bonding effort by the upperclassmen might be due to the amount of change they have been through during their four seasons at Federal Way and knowing how important that kind of stuff is to the success of a soccer team. The Eagle program has had a different head coach in each of the last four seasons, starting with Dennis Pichette in 2001, Carrie Boers — Beamer’s current coach — in 2002 and Justi Baumgardt last year.

“A new coach each year for the past four seasons is always a tough concept for players to adapt to,” said Jason Baumgardt, Justi’s older brother. “The thing about

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