Soccer shoots for stars with high-powered offense

Contributed by Gary Breedlove
Contributed by Gary Breedlove

Lead by an experienced defense and deep group of forwards, this years women’s soccer team has high hopes for a regional championship.

After a second place finish in the NWAACC South Region and a trip to the quarterfinals of the NWAACC Championship last season, head coach Dave Ellis believes this years team has a chance to be even better.

“I think we have a great chance to win the Southern Region,” Ellis said. Once you win the southern region, it’s one win to get into semifinals and semifinals are starfire, if you can get to that final four anything can happen.”

The Titans have already been tested by some of the NWAACC’s best teams early in the season; they suffered defeats by Peninsula Community College and Highline Community College, who are 10-2-0 and 9-2-2, respectively.

“Aside from the Highline result, I’ve been very pleased. In Highline, we had our opportunities to score but we didn’t make the right choices in key moments and denied ourselves a chance to really be up 3-0 at half. We weren’t stopped as much as we stopped ourselves,” Ellis said.

With only five players returning from last years squad, Ellis has depended heavily on a freshman class filled with offensive talent.

“I think this is probably the best recruiting class I’ve had here at Lane, as far as attacking players go,” Ellis said. “It’s a really good class and it’s really good kids, they just wanna work hard and they always wanna get better.”

Sophia Swanson, Aubrie Hood and Kathryn Hostkoetter are all freshmen who have made a significant impact for the Titans this season.

Swanson leads the Titans in goals with four, two of which came in a key 3-2 victory over Lower Columbia Community College.

Hood has provided three assists and also scored twice for the Titans and Hostkoetter has scored twice as well.

“We have a lot of speed up top, I think that has made us really good,” Hood said. “Some of us played together before we came to Lane, so we have really good chemistry together.”

Although most of the Titans’ offense has been provided by freshmen this year, the team is held together by an experienced defense, lead by sophomore goalie Samantha Schoene.

“Sam is, in my opinion, the best goalie in the NWAACC. Last year, she had 11 shutouts, we were a more defensive oriented team. This year we’re far more attacking and Sam’s being asked a lot more questions and she’s made some amazing saves this year, just phenomenal,” Ellis said.

Schoene believes the Titans defense is just as strong as it was last season and she enjoys the challenge that comes with being the last line of defense for an offensive-minded team.

“Although we are scoring more goals this year, I’m having to come through on more saves which is nice because then that allows me to show my ability to play.”

Along With Schoene, the Titans also return sophomore defender Katie McKirdy, a 2012 NWAACC All-Star and welcome sophomore Catalin Castillo, a transfer from Pacific University.

The Titans are currently 4-3-2 overall and 3-3-0 in regional play and find themselves in third place in the South Region, just one point behind the Clark Community College Penguins for second place.

Ellis believes his team is more than capable of moving to the top of the region if they are able to clean up some small mistakes.

“So far we’ve a tendency to leak bad goals and that’s something that we have to get rid of and fix,” Ellis said. “It’s balanced by the fact that we can score like we’ve never scored before. it’s just one of those things, we’ve got to be a bit tighter in the back, a bit smarter with our play.”

Clackamas Community College will be the Titans’ biggest competiton for a Southern Region Championship this season; the Cougars are 8-3-0 in league play and are currently six points ahead of the Titans.

The Titans will have a chance to face the Cougars for the first time this season when they meet in Oregon City, Ore. Oct. 11.