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Cougars advance to District Tournament
MARYSVILLE — The Lakewood girls soccer team is headed to the 2013 2A District 1/2 Girls Soccer Tournament on Nov. 2, at Bellingham’s Civic Stadium. They will face Squalicum at 1 p.m.
The Cougars finished the regular season with a league record of 7-6-1 and an overall record of 7-8-1.
“The regular season went pretty well,” said Head Coach Steve Brown. “Our girls made a lot of progress this year, and we’re happy to be playing in the District Tournament.”
Brown said the beginning of the season was very challenging for his team.
“We started the season with a very competitive schedule. Our two preseason games were non-league games, and they were against 3A schools,” said Brown. “And we had a jamboree, that’s not reflected on the record, against a 3A and a 4A school, and I believe all of those teams are actually in the District tournaments within their respective divisions as well.”
If that wasn’t challenging enough, Brown said his team started the regular season with a match against Archbishop Murphy, which went undefeated and finished the season with a 14-0 league record.
“Those first games were very challenging,” said Brown. “We did a lot of learning during that period, and the girls progressed and they matured their game a lot.”
Brown said his team has benefitted from having a number of returning players who saw playing time last year.
“We improved placement-wise within the league this year,” said Brown. “I think a lot of it is due to that extra year of experience, and the maturity of the players.”
Brown said that after the challenging start to the season, his team was able to get some wins.
“As the season went on we were able to find success, and were able to string together three wins in a row, which helped quite a bit as well,” said Brown.
The coach said his team has improved on both offense and defense.
“Lakewood in the past has had a very strong defense. I think we have a better balance of offense and defense,” said Brown. “What has helped is a lot of our players are not necessarily position-specific players. For instance, I don’t have players who can only play defense, or only play offense. They can play almost anywhere on the field that I ask them to play, and do it successfully.
With the regular season behind them, the Cougars move on to the District Tournament where they’ll face a very strong Squalicum team in the first round.
“It’s going to be a huge challenge, there’s no doubt about that,” said Brown about the Squalicum game. “Anybody who wants to advance in the tournament is going to have to play them at some point or another because of the way the brackets are set up. They are obviously a very good team. I believe they placed in the top four at State last year, and they beat Sehome in their league this year, which is the first time Sehome has not won their division in quite a few years.”
The top four teams in the District Tournament will move on to the State Tournament, and Brown believes the Cougars can be one of those teams that move on.
“I think it is something that realistically they can strive for and achieve,” said Brown. “The way the matches are at this level, the difference is usually predicated on one or two things that happen in the game, and it depends on if you’re on the good side or bad side of that. They are fully capable of being on the good side and, if they are, they will be able to advance.”