Optimism is high around the Sequim girls soccer team, a squad which returns a roster rich in talent at every position group.
“Practices are going really good, we are excited, we know there are high expectations for this team and we have a really solid corp of returning seniors who are great leaders on the field,” coach Ken Garling said.
“And juniors and sophomores who got experience last year and will really round us out well.”
Taryn Johnson, last fall’s Peninsula Daily News All-Peninsula Girls Soccer MVP, returns up top to add to her career goal-scoring record.
Johnson poured in 26 goals with six assists in 2022 to earn first-team all-Olympic League honors and has collected 52 goals heading into her senior year.
“She’s definitely going to be in the league MVP conversation and she’s such a good leader,” Garling said. “She’s been vocal in leading the younger players on the squad and taking them under their wing and mentoring the freshmen. All our seniors are doing a good job of that.”
Johnson will team with her cousin Raimey Brewer. Brewer led the Wolves with nine assists last season — several going to Johnson.
“We will have Taryn and Raimey up front but we also have a couple of freshmen who will be contributing for us,” Garling said.
“We see Sasha Yada contributing some minutes up top. She’s an all-around forward who has a nose for the goal.
“And Olive Bridge, we think she can be an attacking midfielder for us. She’s strong on the ball, distributes passes well, plays with great pace and is smart with the ball.”
Senior Jennyfer Gomez returns in midfield after earning second-team All-Olympic League honors; she scored nine goals in 2022 (second in the team) and four assists (third).
Fellow senior Mikiah Winters started early on last season but dealt with hip injuries for much of last fall.
“She’s good at marking up forwards and getting the ball forward,” Garling said.
“We do have some depth at defender.”
Senior Kaia Lestage is likely the team’s most versatile player. She played nearly every position last season, including a stellar turn in goal against Port Angeles when Kalli Grove was knocked out of the game.
“Kaia we will hold back at defender for now,” Garling said. “For now, but she’s so incredibly talented, she’s our utility player, and if we have need we can move her anywhere.”
Kiley Winter played outside left back last fall and showed good soccer IQ and pace, Garling said.
Junior defender Ivy Barrett is a positive player for Sequim, man marking and playing well on the ball and will again be trusted along the Wolves’ back line.
Libby Turella also started at defensive back last season and will be in the formation again this fall.
And Grove returns in goal for her junior season.
One unfortunate loss is senior Teagen Moore. Moore injured a knee during a summer soccer tournament and will miss the season.
Garling said he thinks Bainbridge, North Kitsap and Port Angeles will be top competition in Olympic League play, but also pointed out another foe to keep an eye on.
“Bremerton will be a surprise. They have a good system down there,” Garling said.
Sequim’s team goal is to make the postseason and do well enough to earn a trip to the state tournament. Lats season, the Wolves were 9-7 overall and went 1-1 at districts.
“That’s the conversation our seniors have been having with our underclassmen,” Garling said. “We still have to play 14 games. But if we are good sports and good teammates, the rest we will see how it shakes out.”
Sequim also has worked to get soccer practices back on campus after the boys and girls teams were relegated to using the Albert Haller Fields at Carrie Blake Community Park due to scheduling issues with busy Sequim School District fields.
“Essentially what we wanted to do for the soccer program as a whole, both boys and girls, was to get back to training on the high school grounds,” Garling said.
”We are thankful that Albert Haller [fields] at Carrie Blake is a great space, but it’s a little bit of a walk over there from school and we have a lot of younger players.
“Sequim’s field space is getting smaller and more and more busy, so our Women’s Soccer Booster Club made a push to get the girls back on school grounds.”
Garling said Sequim School District officials have worked with the team.
“School officials have listened to us and worked with us and the football team to use their practice field and the stadium field as well,” Garling said.
The Sequim stadium field hosted a JV football game Monday, but it won’t host another event until Sept. 22.
“Stadium field is in good shape, we’ve practiced there the last two weeks,” Garling said.
“And the school is revamping some fields that are dormant that we used to train on 10 years or so ago, so when those fields are ready. It should help everybody find a field.”
Sequim was slated to host North Mason on Sept. 12 — results were not available at press time.
The Wolves host Port Angeles on Sept. 14. After a Sept. 19 game at Olympic, Sequim is back home for league matches against North Kitsap (Sept. 21) and Bainbridge (Sept. 26).
Fall sports preview: SHS girls soccer
Head coach: Ken Garling (third year)
2022 record: 8-6 in Olympic League, 1-1 at districts; 9-7 overall
Key returning players: Taryn Johnson (F, sr.), Raimey Brewer (F, jr.), Kaia Lestage (D, sr.), Jennyfer Gomez (M, sr.), Ivy Barrett (D, jr.), Mikiah Winter (D, sr.), Kalli Grove (GK, jr.), Libby Turella (D, jr.), Kiley Winter (M, so.)
Key newcomers: Sasha Yada (F, fr.); Olive Bridge (M, fr.).