Sports

Bucs welcome new challenges on the soccer pitch

Kingston High
Kingston High's Brooke Tschida, left, goes for a header against Port Townsend's Khloe Frank last year.
— image credit: Brad Camp/File Photo

KINGSTON — The Kingston High girls soccer team doesn’t exactly have it easy this year.

The Buccaneers, who finished 2009 at 6-4-2 in league play and 6-6-3 overall, will face many familiar foes in the newly revised Class 2A Olympic League. But they’ll also see a few difficult changes.

“We’re taking on the toughest teams, which is good for us, for development,” head coach Craig Smith said.

This season, the Bucs will play two games each against the opponents that have given them the most trouble in the past: Klahowya, Olympic High and North Kitsap High. Klahowya, already a part of the 2A Class, has yielded one win to the Bucs in six encounters over the past three seasons. Olympic and North Kitsap moved down from the 3A level this year, and have been challenging opponents for Kingston. The Bucs have yet to win against North, which went undefeated in league play last year.

“Klahowya has always been the team,” Smith said. “And North is the team to beat this year.”

Something Smith is counting on against the terrible triumvirate is his team’s maturity.

“It’s our fourth year, a new school, so here we go. The program has somewhat matured,” Smith said. “And I think it should show. It started showing at the end of the season last year.”

Leading the Buccaneer charge is senior midfielder Dana Van Wyck and junior counterpart Tori Gerken. The two have each played on the team since they were freshmen, and have seen the program grow. Van Wyck believes the new league setup will have more of a positive than negative impact on the Bucs. In the past, games against the former 3A schools would not affect Kingston’s chances at a playoff berth. Now, with Olympic and North moving to the 2A level, games against those teams will have direct bearing on the Bucs’ postseason opportunities.

“I think we might even step it up even more now,” Van Wyck said. “It’ll make us work harder because they’re in our league and affecting us now.”

Kingston’s defense will again be one of its strong points. This year’s lineup includes seniors Rachel Taft and Tatum Larson, as well as a few new faces promoted from junior varsity.

“The girls who came up are really going to strengthen the defense,” Gerken said.

The team also has a more mature offense, which includes senior Kyla Jorgenson, juniors Alexa Ekonomakis and Brooke Tschida, as well as Van Wyck and Gerken.

The biggest challenge at the moment is communication, something easily remedied, Gerken said. Smith believes the Bucs started to peak at the end of the season last year, as they made it to the second round of the West Central District III playoffs. Players hope that, as they continue to mature, they will build on that success.

“I think once we keep practicing and playing, we’ll further that,” Van Wyck said.

The Bucs open the 2010 season at home Tuesday against King’s High School. Kickoff is at 6:15 p.m.

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