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Tomahawks aspire to first-ever postseason
The girls have set a goal to make the playoffs this year, said M-P soccer coach Geoff Kittle.
The goal is a modest one, and probably shared by the seven other 4A schools in the Wesco North division. Four of them qualify for the playoffs every fall.
But for the Lady Tomahawks, meeting that goal would be a first for the program.
The girls want to make history and be the first team to make the playoffs, Kittle said.
Last year was Kittles first year as head coach, and that year he figures just a handful of goals separated the Tomahawks from a playoff appearance. If the girls had won the two games they tied, a playoff berth might have been theirs.
Kittle said he has learned a lot about coaching from his first go-round as the girls head coach.
Namely, how important it is to get them to buy into each other. And how to buy into roles make them feel like they have a place on the team, Kittle said.
I see our scores getting better. I think our second-half play got better every game we played last year.
Another way the team has evolved is how Kittle manages practice. Rather than practicing varsity and junior varsity apart, Kittle and JV coach Gary Riozzi combine their efforts to drill players.
We do training close together as possible. We do a new thing where the midfield goes with one coach and the defense between JV and varsity go with another coach, explained standout senior midfielder Kassandra Riozzi. So were not as segregated as you might think.
Kassandra is one of three family members involved in the M-P soccer team this year her dad is the JV coach and her sister Krista made the varsity squad as a freshman and is expected to play a big part in the Tomahawks success this season.
Kassandra is one of three key players in whats shaping up to be a potent M-P offense.
She and senior forward Melissa Lauer return from junior campaigns that netted them places on the all-conference soccer team this summer. Fellow forward Hannah Wood earned second-team all-conference honors last season and Lauer made the honorable mention list.
The trio combined to lead the team in goals and assists last year.
The Tomahawk defense skews a little younger. Felicia Hendrickson is the only senior listed at defender on the team roster. But coaches Kittle and Riozzi said they were impressed with the varsity teams underclassmen, particularly other freshman Lauren Schoonover, who helps back up senior goalkeeper Skyler Peterson.
The girls are starting to learn together, Kittle noted, adding, Theres a lot of talent among the younger girls.
The Tomahawks met one of their biggest rivals early in their schedule as perennial Marysville rival Snohomish was their opponent for the season opener Sept. 4.
Early-season wins should bode well for the Tomahawks playoff dreams this season M-P is scheduled to take on the leagues top four teams in their first four games.