CWAC soccer teams gear up for season

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Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Quincy defender Rebekah Castro (4) tries to keep the ball away from Warden forward Aaliyah Escamilla last season. The Jacks host the Cougars on Sept. 10.

Girls soccer teams from around the Central Washington Athletic Conference gear back up for the beginning of the fall season. Selah finished first in the league last season with a perfect 9-0 record. Here is an outlook for some of local teams coming into the season.

Ephrata Tigers

EPHRATA — The Tigers lost 10 seniors from the squad that finished third in the CWAC, with a record of 14-6 (7-2). Ephrata, and first-year head coach Gary Klepec, will look to rebuild around a young squad as they try and compete for the top of the league.

Early on, Klepec has tried to work on fundamentals with his players as he implements his own system.

“We’ve been working really hard on touch and passing, moving off the ball, trying to make sure we’re playing good soccer,” Klepec said.

The new Ephrata coach will rely on his seniors to lead his youthful team as they look to best their mark from last year. Using width, Klepec hopes to feed his talent up top off players in the defense, building his counter attack from the back.

On the offensive end, Klepec expects Nikola Brzezny to be a key contributor for the Tigers this year. On the other end, Alexis Blancas is a player Klepec expects to give defensive support.

In his first year, Klepec said it will take a few games before he has better idea of what he has this season, but the Tigers will have a pair of strong tests early against Cascade and Cashmere.

In year one, Klepec has his eyes on reaching the postseason.

“We’re going to take one game at a time every game,” Klepec said. “Our ultimate goal is postseason. And once you make it into postseason, anything can happen.”

The Tigers open the season against Royal on Tuesday, Sept. 10.

Othello Huskies

OTHELLO — Another first-year head coach, Juan Garcia will also sport a young team coming into the year. The new head coach looks to improve upon last season when the Huskies finished 8-10 (4-5).

In his first weeks before the opener the new Othello coach looks to get his team ready for the strain of the season.

“Conditioning first,” Garcia said. “I work on simple footwork drills, passing, the fundamentals of soccer to see who’s going to be fit for what team.”

Even with a young team coming into the year, Garcia feels his team’s camaraderie will be a strength going into the year.

“They’re united as a team,” Garcia said. “They just have good communication with each other.”

Emily Mendez, Gracie Sorenson, Hailee Guzman and Ashley Perez are just a few players Garcia looks to lead the group this year, either on or off the field.

In his first year, Garcia looks to implement his own system, putting an emphasis on a possession-focused attack.

“I don’t like long balls, I don’t like kickball, back and forth,” Garcia said. “I like much more controlled passes, moving the ball all the way from the back forward, and showing them it’s okay to move the ball back if there’s nowhere to push the ball forward.”

Moving into the season, the first-year coach looks for his team to try and compete for one of the top spots in the conference.

“I want to be one of the strongest teams in the CWAC and, hopefully, make a strong presence in districts,” Garcia said.

Othello opens the regular season on Thursday, Sept. 12 against Clarkston.

Quincy Jackrabbits

QUINCY — Second-year head coach Francisco Tafoya brings the core of his group back for this season. Quincy finished last season 7-9 (4-5), as they look to improve bringing back so much from 2018.

“That’s going to help us with team chemistry,” Tafoya said. “I know a lot of these girls have been playing together growing up.”

With so many upperclassmen, Tafoya said he has a lot of players looking to step into those leadership roles after losing all three captains from the previous season.

Defensively, the Quincy head coach expects to be sound, with a line of stout defenders on the back line.

“Offensively, we’ve got our goal-scoring machine, Emily Wurl, coming back and just maybe looking to play her in different roles this year to help build the play up and connect her to spread the ball out a little more.”

Tafoya said his first year at the helm was a bit of a learning experience, but feels there’s improvement with he and his assistants on the coaching side.

Looking forward, the Quincy head coach said he’s looking for a win to open the district tournament, to extend the postseason, and possibly more.

“If we exceed our expectations, possibly getting into the state tournament,” Tafoya said. “If these girls stay focused, they are more than capable of doing it.”

The Jacks open the season Tuesday Sept. 10, against Warden.

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