By Justin Busby
Head Coach Mary Schroeder announced Thursday, April 13 that letters of intent had been signed by Ferndale forward JazLynn Ahrens, Squalicom midfielder Payton Fowler, Bellingham forward Kayla Heidenreich, and Meridian’s pair of forwards Payton Lunde and Micaela Pimento, along with Columbia River midfielder Alexis Detling from Vancouver, Wash., Bellingham class of 2016 graduate Kylie Clark, and Ferndale class of 2015 graduate Carly Bannerman.
Schroeder has been busy during the offseason, recruiting a strong freshman class of athletes from all around Whatcom County to replace key players that have completed their second year of eligibility like team captains Hattie North and Brooke Jackson, midfielder Alex Phillips and forward Bostynn Barnes.
The new class of athletes will be looking to make an impact with the Orcas as big as they did during their senior seasons with seven of the eight receiving second or first all-Northwest Conference team honors.
Schroeder worked hard to add quality players to next season’s roster and is determined to make it into the NWAC tournament they missed last season after finishing five points behind the Shoreline Dolphins and the last qualifying spot. One incentive Schroeder used to bring in players is her past experience with coaching club soccer for Whatcom Rangers over the last 15 years.
“The cool thing about this class too is I know most all of them from coaching them from when they were little up through Bellingham and Rangers, so there are connections to the program, and that’s my goal, to make sure that every person we put on the team has a connection to me or a teammate and they become invested with the team,” Schroeder said about her recruiting.
With leading-scorer forward Lyla Pagnotta returning for next fall’s season the offense production looks only to become stronger with the addition of players who score goals. Meridian’s pair of forwards, Lunde and Pimento, combined for 31 goals and 16 assists this last fall while Squalicom’s Fowler and Bellingham’s Heidenreich recorded team-high tallies of 17 and 18 goals respectively.
Bringing in speed for the offensive line and attacking midfield was a goal for Schroeder in building a frontline that can quickly threaten an opponent’s goal on a counter-attack or recovering back to the middle of the field to defend a loose ball.
Ahrens, Heidenreich, Pimento and Lunde, who runs track for Meridian, will look to use that pace on the wings.
“We have some speed coming in to help our offense. We had a strong offensive line last year but we were lacking on speed, so that was a big recruiting task of mine this year,” Schroeder said on the new offensive options.
Schroeder will also experiment with players in different positions and line-ups but is still looking to bring a goalkeeper into the team, and would like to increase their depth at the back line with more defenders.