By Alex George
The Orca women’s soccer team is off to a pretty good start in league play with three wins and only one loss on Wednesday, Sept. 21, to first place rival Peninsula College in the NWAC North Division.
Coach Mary Schroeder attributes the early season success to having more depth in all positions than last year.
Schroeder said that new transfers, fresh local talent, and returning veterans are all contributing to the team.
“We have four transfers that have made positive impacts and are huge contributors,” said Schroeder. “Defender and captain Hattie North, Bellingham native and transferfrom St. Martin’s, Alex Phillips, winger, transfer from Pierce, goalkeeper Cierra Nice, transfer from Gillette College, and Nicole DeBoer, winger and outside back, a Burlington native who transferred from Chaminade College in Hawaii.”
“North and Nice are defensive leaders and keep the defense organized,” said Schroeder. “They are a force to be reckoned with.”
The Orcas are anchored by a core of returning sophomores: midfielder and captain Brooke Jackson, midfielder Mikaela Friske, and forward/midfielder Bostynn Barnes.
“Jackson is a composed player with a great strike on the ball,” said Schroeder. “Watch for her to shoot from range and score lots of free kicks.”
“We call Friske the Honey Badger, in reference to Ozzie Alonso from the Sounders. She is hardworking and plays great high pressure defense,” said Schroeder.
“Barnes is fast, has has a great first touch, and is offensively minded,” said Schroeder. “She scored and got an assist in the first game she played and will be a huge contributor offensively to the Orcas.”
Incoming freshman to lookout for include forward Lyla Pagnotta and midfielder Kendra Warwick.
“Pagnotta is a strong force up top and is our target forward, meaning that we want to get her the ball,” said Schroeder. “Warwick is our glue at midfield. We try to play through her. She is quick, fit, and a tireless worker.”
Over the summer, Whatcom replaced the artificial turf on Orca Field. Schroeder believes that the new playing surface has been a positive for the team.
“The new turf is awesome,” said Schroeder. “Fewer injuries this year, which I partially attribute to the ‘give’ in the turf. It’s easier on the joints and muscles, plays well, and has been perfect thus far.”
Schroeder sees this year’s squad competing for a post-season berth this fall.
“The coaching staff has big plans for this team and they have risen to every challenge they have been given,” said Schroeder. “We are excited to see what they will accomplish, as they have playoff goals in mind.”
The Orca’s next home game is on Sept. 28 at Orca Field. The game starts at 2 p.m. and the Orcas are taking on their rival, the Skagit Cardinals.
Admission is free!