The Sehome girls’ soccer team is far from normal.
There are no set positions. There is no go-to scorer. Heck, even the formation the Mariners have run in past years, coach Andria Fountain has a hard time describing.
“Technically, it was a 3-6-1,” Fountain said during an Aug. 26 preseason practice. “I kind of mess with it a little, but it was kind of heavy in the midfield.”
That formation will be changing this year, although Fountain hesitated to give away too much strategy, but the rest of the Mariners’ philosophy will remain the same.
Players have to be ready to play wherever Fountain wants them and buy into the team-first atmosphere and in return, they get invaluable experience that can transfer to the college game.
“That’s just how I have to run things. They all know if they want to play, they’re going to have to play where I put them,” Fountain said. “I tell them to realize that it’s a credit to them. I’m not going to play them someplace they can’t handle. They just need to be flexible and move around.”
It’s also become somewhat of a secret weapon for Sehome — with no star player, opposing teams can’t key in on one person.
This season the scoring-by-committee approach may be even more present. Last year’s leading scorer Devin Grahn tore her anterior crucial ligament (ACL) in the spring and will miss the entire soccer season and the next three highest scorers — Lyla Pagnotta, Bryce Sherif and Andrea Zucchi — all scored six or seven goals.
The scoring, though, has to come from somewhere and Pagnotta, Sherif and Zucchi all will factor in, as well as one of Fountain’s four handpicked captains, Abby Webster, who tallied four marks this year and will play just about anywhere on the field, although mostly in the midfield and attack. Sherif, Grahn and Katie Boon-Dooley are the other captains.
“I know I’ve been playing center mid and forward, and it’s tricky at first to get used to both positions but it’s easy to adjust once you’re in it,” Webster said. “I think it’s definitely helpful for our team to have strengths in many different places.”
Of course, it’s clear what the the Mariners’ strength is and has been for the past few seasons — defense.
It starts with junior goalkeeper Nicole Carlson, who impressed during last season’s run to the Class 2A State Tournament — a place the Mariners are striving to get back to in 2015. Her skill allows the defense, captained by Bryce Sherif, to be aggressive and confident in their decision-making, which then allows Fountain to move other pieces around.
“I think I have solid defenders back there, which allows me to be flexible and try new things because they’re just good solid athletes,” Fountain said.
The ever-shifting Mariners may have a unique style, but it’s certainly not deterring anyone from coming out for the team, which had 51 players come out — enough to make three teams.
The philosophy not only allows the Mariners to play to matchups and surprise teams with different faces in different places, but it’s also a good jumping-off point for players to launch into college play.
“We just like them to be really versatile and be able to play anywhere because I think that helps them at the next level too,” Fountain said. “There are so many college players who were something else in high school.”
It may not be normal for a high school team, but it’s what has made Sehome successful, and this year should be no different. The Mariners likely are going to be one of the top teams in the Northwest Conference yet again, you just won’t see any of their players among the top scorers.
And they’re just fine with that.
Reach Joshua Hart at 360-715-2238 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sehome girls’ soccer 2014 scoring
*Graduated; ^Out for 2015 season with ACL injury