Jim Flint's philosophy: You can't get cocky until you do something.

The Astoria girls soccer team has gained a lot of confidence over the last two years, said their coach, but "I don't think anyone on this team is cocky enough to look past someone.

"Pat Riley said, 'complacency is the disease of success.' And we're just not there," said Flint, entering his fourth year with the Fishermen. "We've never won a league title or district title. We've never won a darn thing. The point is that we don't have anything to be complacent about."

Astoria finished the 2007 season on the doorstep of the state playoffs, losing a district tiebreaker to Seaside, 1-0, in a contest that needed two rounds of shootouts to decide the victor.

Astoria's team goals are certainly clear for '08. In a team meeting the first week of practice, Flint wrote on a chalkboard: "Cowapa League champions," and "1st or 2nd, District 1."

That would make 2008 the greatest year in the history of the program. It isn't too hard to imagine the Fishermen reaching their goal.

"I believe those are two goals within our reach," Flint said. "If we had beaten Catlin Gabel last year (a 1-0 victory for Catlin), we would have finished second, and not fourth. That's how close we were last year. Did we lose some good players? Yes. But we have good players to replace them."

Astoria finished with its best league record in years (4-3-1), and 5-7-3 overall - a little deceiving, since the Fish played the state's third-toughest schedule last season.

THE LEAGUE

Despite last year's success, the one thing missing in the Astoria girls soccer record book is a state playoff appearance.

Blame that on a tough league. It's still one of the toughest districts in the state, with Catlin Gabel, Oregon Episcopal School and Valley Catholic dominating the district for years.

From 1992 to 2005, Catlin Gabel won 12 state titles. OES won the other two.

"The top three are certainly going to be Catlin Gabel, Valley Catholic and OES," Flint said.

The Clatsop Clash with Seaside will be a key, as always, in determining a state playoff berth.

THE PLAYERS

Another reason to believe in the Astoria girls this year: They've got nine seniors and 13 returners, including state Goalkeeper of the Year Bug Coggins, with one of the toughest groups of defenders in the district.

"(Coggins) has only played two years, and that's how quickly she developed," Flint said. "And she hasn't even hit her potential."

Coggins is definitely the anchor, with a back line of defenders including seniors Jordan Crownover and Charlene Harber, and sophomores Eleni Duret and Megan Parker.

Sarah Pope returns for her senior season, and will contribute major minutes, as will junior Erin Schauermann, "the fittest of any of the Schauermann players we've had," Flint said.

Up front, Astoria has seniors Shelly Gregory, Mary Jo Robertson and Dani Stevens, along with four-year starter (and three-time all-leaguer) Melissa Law.

"With Melissa as our point guard, so to speak, I am confident she will be a four-time all-Cowapa League player and four-year starter."

Added depth includes keeper Lacey Hippensteel, along with junior Angela Tumbarello and freshmen Amelia Fitch and Katie Leino.

Possible swing players include Katie Coughran, Rachel Ellis, Pilar Lopez, Savannah Scheel, Christina Trujillo and Stacy Vinson.

"We have a rock-solid defense," said Flint, whose team gave up just five goals in district play, and two goals against Cowapa League teams last year.

Harber is perhaps the most talented female athlete walking the halls at Astoria, while "Eleni is fast, and Jordan and Megan are strong and very physical," he said. "Charlene has size, speed and power, and she likes the defensive role."

THE OUTLOOK

If the Fishermen are going to make the state playoffs, this is their big chance, with nine seniors on the roster.

An eight-day, make-or-break stretch in October should determine Astoria's fate. The Fish host OES Oct. 8, followed by consecutive games at Valley Catholic and Catlin Gabel.

Prediction: They'll come through and secure that elusive state playoff berth.

"I'm really excited about this year," Flint said. "The senior group is just terrific. They've worked really hard."

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