Lakewood kickers plan to make their own luck this fall

LAKEWOOD — Last year, the Lakewood girls soccer team had three seniors. This year, it has just one who will play a lot of varsity time.

"We're very young," said Lakewood coach Jeremiah Wohlgemuth. "Last year we started six freshmen and this year we have two or three more freshmen starting."

But that doesn't bother Wohlgemuth much at all. His freshman and sophomore classes are among the first to play a lot of year-round soccer and the players have all earned their spot on the team. After going 6-10 overall (5-9 in conference) last year, the team returns many weapons from that team a year sharper.

The team returns five girls who scored three or more goals last year, including junior midfielder Alisha Stott, a Cascade Conference second-team pick, who led the team with nine goals. Also returning to contribute to the Lakewood offense are senior Erin Dierickx, a three-year varsity player, and junior Maddie Chamberlin. The trio of girls scored about half of the team's goals last year.

Stott also led the team in assists last year and joins Dierickx as one of the team's most varsity-tested players.

"She should be one of our go-to players this year and contributes leadership and her work ethic," Wohlgemuth said.

Another key returner is sophomore goalkeeper Miranda Head, who started every game last year, recording four shutouts. The coach said he considers her one of the top goalkeepers in the conference this year.

But while the team brings back nine girls from last year's team, their positions on the field are hardly set in stone. For one, the team changes formation from game to game, depending upon factors like the size of the game field or the strengths of the team they'll play. Furthermore, Wohlgemuth added that the team is stronger when players can help out on different parts of the field, something the Lakewood baseball team he helps coach does well.

With the bulk of his team in the sophomore and junior classes, the sense is that expectations for Lakewood's performance this season are similarly middle-of-the-pack.

"But everyone else sees us that way and if we work hard, we might sneak up on some teams," Wohlgemuth said, adding that he hopes to put Cedarcrest, a team Lakewood hasn't yet defeated, on that list. The Red Wolves graduated eight seniors and the teams' Oct. 1 meeting at Lakewood is an important one to the Cougars' prospects in a league perennially dominated by Archbishop Murphy, Cedarcrest and King's.

An earlier test of the team's mettle will come against Granite Falls Sept. 22, a team of similar composition and talents to the Cougars. The league calendar begins Sept. 15 at South Whidbey.

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