2018 was a big year for the Sequim High School girls soccer team, earning their first-ever state playoff berth after turning around a tough start to the season.
Fourth-year head coach Derek Vander Velde said he was proud of that squad, and with the vast majority of the same team returning he’s hoping the Wolves take another step forward this fall.
“We had three varsity seniors last year, plus a couple that swung between teams,” Vander Velde said. “Two of those three picked up knee injuries early in the season, so we’re really only replacing one player from last year. That’s a great place to be in as a coach.”
Vander Velde said that kind of continuity between seasons allows him to get a little more complex and creative in his coaching this season.
“There’s a lot of things I’ve been working towards tactically and coaching-wise, and this season I can put a lot more of that in place,” he said. “These girls already know the system, now we can add more wrinkles and really challenge our opponents.
“This is a really strong, smart team. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do.”
In a recent practice, seniors Daisy Ryan, Gabby Happe and Hope Glasser all stood out as adapting well to the changes Vander Velde is implementing, as were juniors Abby Schroeder and Amara Sayer. When asked, Vander Velde pointed to all five girls as important to the success of his team.
“We’ve got a lot of hard-working girls here, and there’s some real talent too,” Vander Velde said.
“It’s not the deepest roster, but we’ve got a lot of girls who can fill a lot of roles, and that’s great as a coach.”
Vander Velde is also hoping to see Sequim get off to a better start to the season than in 2018, when they opened 0-6 in Olympic League play before winning five of their last six games to earn a district playoff berth.
Once in districts, the Wolves ripped off three more big wins — against Highline, White River and North Kitsap — to earn a district title and the first state playoff berth in school history. Matched up against a tough Ellensburg team in the state opener, the Wolves held them scoreless through regulation and extra time, eventually falling 4-3 on penalty kicks.
“Last year started so tough,” Vander Velde said. “But these girls turned it around so well. I’m hoping we can have more games like the second half of the season.”
Their season begins at home on Saturday, Sept. 7, with a 2 p.m. game against Lakewood, who played Sequim to a 1-1 draw in their non-league home opener in 2018.
On Tuesday, Sept. 10, the Wolves host Klahowya, who beat Sequim 2-0 last year and and finished third in the 1A state tournament last season after going 14-2 in the regular season.