Last year was full of nail biters for the Lady Wolves but this season, first year head coach Derek Vander Velde finds his team is hungry and ready to learn.
Sequim has struggled in recent years with a 5-11 overall record in 2014 and a 3-11-1 overall record last year and 1-10 in the Olympic League. The Wolves played tough though with seven games in 2015 decided by one goal and six games going into overtime.
Back is a large contingent of underclassmen along with seniors Abigail Hansted, forward, and Erin Vig and Chloie Sparks, both defenders.
Goalkeeper Claire Henninger returns as a junior after earning all-Olympic League girls first team honors last season. She was the lone underclassmen on the first team and posted three shutouts and gave up two goals or less in 12 of the Wolves’ 15 games. Graduated senior defender Mattie Clark was named to the league’s second team.
Vander Velde said Henninger and Vig are the team’s vocal leaders while sophomore defender Claire Payne leads in other ways.
“She’s somebody that leads on the field and in the weight room by example,” Vander Velde said.
Vander Velde, a Sequim High social science and special education teacher, follows fellow teacher Brittany Murdach, who led the team last year and stepped down for personal reasons.
He previously served as an assistant varsity soccer coach in Central California for five years, before moving to Sequim two years ago.
“We’ve got a great squad in Sequim,” he said.
“I feel like the development with Storm King and Sequim Junior Soccer is excellent with a lot of kids coming up who have been playing together for a long time.”
Vander Velde said some of his players stayed busy over the summer going to camps and playing in various leagues.
“They are all very willing and wanting to learn a new system and types of play,” he said. “I think they’re doing a good job. I’m throwing a lot at them.”
While it’s still early to see how Sequim stacks against the competition, Vander Velde is looking to the future.
“My hope for this program is to develop it so that the kids at the junior high and elementary schools look at these young ladies as role models and want to emulate them when they get up to the high school,” he said.
The Wolves started with preseason play on Sept. 8 with a 4-0 loss in Everett to Archbishop Murphy.
Vander Velde said despite the score, much is to be gained.
“The ladies played with their hearts, fought for every ball and most importantly they played for each other,” he said. “It was an impressive display of skill and being their first test, the future looks bright.”
They followed the loss with a big 7-0 win over Chimacum at home on Sept. 10.
Sequim scored four goals in the first half and totaled 31 shots on goal over the game, Vander Velde said. Henninger saved five goals including a penalty kick.
Hope Glasser scored three goals and Jessica Dietzman, Yana Hoesel, Bobbi Sparks and Aylee Bennett each scored once.
Sequim played Tuesday at home against the Olympic Trojans and travel to Coupeville on Thursday, Sept. 15.
To support the team, search for Sequim Boosters Girls Soccer on Facebook to purchase T-shirts and sweatshirts.