The post-Shannon McNallan era of Columbia High girls soccer has begun.
That’s because the two-time SWW 1A League Trico Division offensive player of the year graduated last spring with state Class 1A First Team honors to her credit. Moreover, the year before, McNallan helped lead the Bruins to a share of their first league championship.
But for all their brilliant play, the McNallan-led Bruins never made it to the state tournament. In fact, CHS’s only state appearance came in 2004, McNallan’s freshman year, the program’s second.
Nonetheless, expectations for greater things to come have greeted the Bruins at the start of every season since.
In 2008, Columbia will seek its second Trico title—and another SW District playoff berth—in a revamped division comprising CHS, Stevenson, La Center, Kalama and Castle Rock. (Former member Rochester switched affiliation to the league’s Evergreen Division.)
Bruins Coach Amy Kasenga’s sixth CHS team returned 11 letter-winners, including eight starters, and had a total turnout of 29. Kasenga also welcomed several new players on the first day of August workouts—a group that includes four girls from Trout Lake, two CHS freshmen and another exchange student from Norway.
“The girls are very excited about the possibilities they have, as well as beginning a new tradition of winning,” Kasenga said.
The Bruins are led by senior midfielders and co-captains Whitney Reynier and Anna Anderson, and senior goalkeeper Claire Stevenson. Both Reynier and Stevenson earned First Team All-Trico honors in 2007.
Kasenga also will be counting on significant contributions from returnees Joanna Villa (jr., FWD), Michelle McMillen (sr., MF), Rebecka Childs (r., DEF), Laurel Huth (so., MF) and Sandra Guzman (jr., DEF), and newcomers Anna Schmid (sr., MF), Katie Yarnell (jr., DEF), Anna Nakae (so., MF), Lyndsey Scott (fr., FWD), Manon Lerebourg (fr., DEF) and Tale Soljfeld (exchange student, GK/FWD).
“The girls are working on building a team attitude, coming together to find common ground and, ultimately, winning,” Kasenga said. “We have strength in numbers and will have some hidden talent that the rest of the Trico will not expect.”
In their first three matches of 2008, the Bruins showed lots of life at the offensive end where they’ve put in 19 goals. Their defense has been pretty good too, with one shutout and just four goals against.
Noted Kasenga: “I think we’ll have a very well-rounded offense and the level of play won’t drop as the substitutes take the field.”
Prior to this season, if Trout Lake girls wanted to play soccer, they had to turn out for their high school’s boys team.
The playing field for those girls changed last winter, however, when Trout Lake School officials asked the White Salmon Valley School District to consider a request to form a prep girls soccer cooperative.
“Several parents approached the school and asked us to pursue the possibility of finding a girls team for their daughters to play on,” Trout Lake athletic director Mike Wood explained.
CHS was agreeable and the schools’ boards of education approved the arrangement for the 2008 fall season last spring.