Friday Harbor girls soccer takes over center field | Sports preview

The girls’ soccer team had a stellar season last year, making it to the top eight teams at state. Coach Paul Hopkins sees no reason why this year would be different.

“The starting lineup is pretty much the same,” he said, noting that only a few players graduated last year. This year the team includes nine juniors, nine sophomores, eight freshman and two eighth-graders.

Hopkins has been coaching at the high school level for about seven years but coached six years for the San Juan Fitness Club before that.

“I like working with the kids. They’re bright, talented and fun to be around. … Winning, I like winning too,” Hopkins said, explaining what keeps him coming back year after year.

The Friday Harbor girls soccer is one of the few teams in their league, 2B, that also has a JV team. Usually, Hopkins said, only A-league teams have JV. The fact the Wolverines do means these young players will have obtained a lot of experience as they grow and enter the varsity team. The girls Wolverines could be a formidable force for years to come.

“It will be fun watching them learn and grow as athletes,” Hopkins said.

The center midfield players are also honing their skills.

“These girls just work really well together,” he said.

This year he wants to focus on controlling the ball.

“We don’t want to play boot ball,” he said, explaining often times in soccer a player will make a good kick, but without knowing where the ball is actually going, the play doesn’t do the team much good. It takes focus, foresight and skill to figure out the best strategy to get the ball to the goal.

The main season goal is to succeed, Hopkins said.

Senior Natalia Meenan echoed that statement enthusiastically.

“Winning and going to state!” she said about the team’s ambitions.

Getting to state means having a solid defense, and working to keep control of the center field, Hopkins said. It also means beating LaConner, which is no easy feat.

“They are a tough team, and fun to play. We always go back and forth winning and losing,” Hopkins said, adding those games are often nail-biters and end up in tie-breaking “shootouts.” In a shootout, each team selects players to take individual shots, or kicks, at a goal defended only by a goalie, resolving a tied up game.

Senior Leah Black is looking forward to the season. Her goals for a successful season are “Hard work, teamwork and having fun.”

The first home game will be on the John O. Linde Field at the bottom of Carter Street, Thursday, Sept. 13 at 4 p.m. against LaConner.