With winter finally over, the Lady Bears soccer team kicked off the outdoor season in the San Francisco Bay area with three games in various locations.
Sporting an emphasis on team play, head coach Sandi Wagner was glad to have her troops playing on regulation fields made of real grass rather then shiny gym floors. This is Juneau-Douglas High School's second pre-season competition in California and coach Wagner believes the trip is a perfect warm up because it creates a transition period between the indoor and outdoor games and helps bring her players together as a unit. They won one game and lost two.
"We are excited about what we saw this weekend," coach Wagner said. "We found some positions for people to play where there were some holes to fill, and that is what it is all about."
Here is a quick look at the positions and some of the familiar names that big things are expected as the 2008 season gets underway.
Senior Kayla Walton has been the cornerstone in goal for the Bears since her freshman year but was injured in Friday's game, so the team will have to wait and see about the status of her injury before committing to another goalie. Sophomore Nia Maake replaced the injured Walton and played as if she had always filled the position.
"I don't know what will happen because we left some goalies back home, but Maake did an outstanding job," Wagner said. "It was like she was a natural, so we were very excited about that."
The Bears experimented with a new defensive line this past weekend. Wagner said that the defense had troubles marking up opposing players but that senior captain Kristi Jorgensen and junior Wendy Calderwood stepped up and performed at the kind of level she expects from them throughout the season ahead.
Defending the middle line of the defense belongs to Jenna Rutecki and Michaela Goade who also respond as attackers when the situation is conducive.
The halfbacks are an experienced group of players and most of them are in their third or fourth year with the team. Seniors Carly Lehnhart, Clarissa Sufon, and captain Rachael Tarver are the pillar midfielders as the fourth position is filled by rotating players in and out.
Fourth-year starter Margaret Sekona leads the offensive charge as she always has during her play with the Crimson Bears. According to Wagner, Sekona has a great shot and has led the Bears in scoring for the last three years. The newcomer to the front line is Amanda Soto, who stepped right into the position and is expected to be another threat within Juneau's arsenal.
Over the past three days, the Lady Bears found out that they needed to improve offensively with shot selection, while the defense was a bit tentative marking the opposition. Juneau also found it difficult to anticipate, read, and take away long passes, yet by weekend's end, the Lady Bears seemed to be improving by making good runs and playing more cohesively as a team.
"Because we have a lot of new people and pulled players from a new squad this year, we learned a lot this weekend about our team dynamics and how to play together as a team," Carly Lehnhart said. "I think the key to this season is going to be teamwork because I do not think that we have as much individual force and spark. What is really going to matter is how we perform as a team."
The Lady Bears kicked off the season with a win and two losses. Thursday and Friday's 0-3 losses came against University High School in downtown San Francisco and Sierra High School of the eastern part of the city. Yesterday the Bears beat Marin Catholic with a 2-0 victory.
In the 28th minute, Lindsey Daniel scored Juneau's first goal of the year with a header off of Margaret Sekona's missed shot that ricocheted off the crossbar.
"The win felt good," Daniel said. "Today we started making the passes we needed to make and getting back in the groove."
Later in the 66th minute, Sekona beat the defense and put one past the goalie.
The players' fobcus is to continue to work together.