A struggling program looks for positives wherever it can find them — and there weren’t many for the Seaside girls soccer team in 2017.
Over their first six games last year, the Lady Gulls were 0-6 and had been outscored 29-1.
Still, Seaside managed to find a positive with a strong finish, as the Gulls had just one loss over the final four games, with three ties.
In addition, they had four players on the all-league team, and three of those four return.
That has the Seaside girls soccer team thinking positive as the Gulls enter a new season, the third under head coach Josh Garhofer.
The defending league champion is gone, but the defending state champion is still there, as the “Conference of Champions” gears up for another season.
Scappoose — which was 10-0 in league games last year — has moved to the Class 5A level, leaving the Cowapa with just five teams.
Valley Catholic finished second in the league standings last season, but got hot in the playoffs and won the state title, defeating Hidden Valley 1-0 in the championship game, giving the Valiants their third title in the last five years.
Valley Catholic had seven players on the all-league team, including five juniors.
“Valley has a new coach (Kibwe Cuffie), but they always have a solid program,” Garhofer said. “I have this theory, where I don’t like one program holding everyone back. But we’ve really had some tough opponents the last few years in the Cowapa League.”
Banks finished 4-6-3 overall last year — below par for the Braves — but Garhofer said, “Banks is back, and Tillamook’s been putting a lot of summer work in … it’s really interesting right now, because everything is up in the air.”
THE LADY GULLS
No one was happier than Garhofer when the Gulls showed up at preseason practices with one of the largest turnouts in years.
“This is the biggest turnout I’ve ever been a part of,” Garhofer said. “Our freshman class is our biggest, which is the first time we’ve ever had that.”
Seaside only lost three seniors off last year’s team, but all three (Bryre Babbitt, Corrie Falleur, Sonoma Moon) were significant.
“Each one played defense,” Garhofer said. “But we have a lot of young girls coming up with a lot of experience there. So as much as I miss the seniors, at least these girls will take some of the pressure off.”
The Gulls have a whopping nine seniors on this year’s roster.
Among those, “we have Chloe Bartel, Audrey Kunde, Katie Zagata and Maddy Brown — four seniors who have been varsity for all four years,” Garhofer said. “When they go, it will be a huge blow to the program. They know a lot about ball movement and they understand the game. They communicate well — it sounds like they’re teachers out there.”
Seaside’s starting goalkeeper also did not return, but “we have a lot of players in training, and they’re getting a crash course in keeping,” Garhofer said. “Taylor Carson (senior) has a lot of JV keeping experience, so she might be there. She’s really athletic and strong.
“We also have some others, including Jihre Lopez (freshman) and Annaka Garhofer (coach Garhofer’s younger sister), who will be a senior. It’s also nice that we have Jessica Angulo-Joli (senior). She had to play keeper the last half of last season, when we lost our keeper to a concussion. Having her up top full-time now will be a huge relief.”
There’s also some youthful talent on the way.
“We have a young freshman defender, Suzy Velasquez, and she looks real strong and aggressive right out of the gate. It’s really something when a freshman can come out looking that good.”
Whether the Gulls can add numbers to the win column, only time will tell.
“It’s really up to these girls,” said the coach. “They have the tools now, they have the group, and there’s a lot of young, athletic people coming up. It’s just how bad they want it. I just want to see that aggression, that ‘no fear’ attitude.”
Assisting Garhofer will be a supporting cast that includes Matt Johnson, Dave Rouse, Peter Shepherd and Andrew Walker.
SEASIDE GIRLS SOCCER
Coach: Josh Garhofer, 3rd year
2017: 1-9-3 (1-6-3 league)
All-league loss: Bryre Babbitt.
All-league returners: Jessica Angulo-Joli, Sr., Chloe Bartel, Sr., Corrie Falleur, So.