Wildcats look to defend league soccer crown

Three-year starter Marika Loudenback brings down a ball on the Mount Si field. The senior will guard the goal in the 2009 season. - Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Three-year starter Marika Loudenback brings down a ball on the Mount Si field. The senior will guard the goal in the 2009 season.
— image credit: Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record

Retooling for the coming season isn’t a negative for the Mount Si girls soccer team.. The Wildcats will aim to build off the success of their stellar second-half run in 2008, which ended in a tough second-round state playoff loss to Kennedy.

Coach Darren Brown comes back for his seventh season at Mount Si, following an 11-4-4 campaign which netted the Wildcats’ first league girls’ soccer title since Mount Si won the Seamount crown in 1988.

Returning seniors include Taylor Robbins, Lauren Snead, Meghan Travis and Kelly Besmer. They will be anchored in the net by three-year starter Marika Loudenback, who is also a senior this year.

“We’re going to come out intense, that’s for sure,” Loudenbach said. “These next few weeks of practice are going to be tough and we’re going to work them. All of us, the captains are really going to push the girls.”

One freshman to keep an eye on is forward Miranda Rawlings.

“Very good player,” Brown said. “She has some flashes of Mariana Zanella in her and reminds me of a smaller-impact Kristen Berndt.”

Brown expects the conference to be a dogfight this season with several strong teams. They include Sammamish, with returning star Anna Geldenhuys; Bellevue, with the equally good Kate Bennett (if she plays; this offseason, according to Brown, she became the latest Kingco 3A girls’ soccer star to tear an ACL in her knee, so she may be out for the entire year); Mercer Island, with their star forward Erin Bourgignon, and Liberty, with a solid young corps including sophomore Cassidy Nangle, who is expected to develop into an elite player, meaning trouble for opposing league defenses.

Brown thinks the key to the Mount Si team’s success will be conditioning.

“A lot of it has to pertain to us coming in as a team and working on team building, along with calisthenics together,” he said. “We’re now incorporating the weight room like we do with the boys, which was a lot.” The coach added that he hopes that this will become a year-round routine with his players.

“We just hope that they take the weight room seriously as a part of their offseason conditioning, as well as their in-season conditioning. It’s huge,” Brown said. A good diet is also key for these players, he said.

Two of the players have already heeded the new mantra. Junior Alexis Pearlstein ran the Snoqualmie Days 10k race August 22, and Besmer has also been working out, despite stress fractures in her feet which will keep her out of action to begin the season.

“I’ve been doing a lot of running just up and down the Parkway, then a lot in the weight room,” she said. Besmer has been working with Mount Si’s strength and conditioning coach, John Zanas, to try to counter-act these injuries, which result from track and field, which she also competes in.

Brown returns all of his assistant coaches from last season; Ben Tomlisson and Tom Burford each are in their fourth season, and Lindsey Jorgensen will be back for her second season.

Last year’s stars included forward Nikki Stanton, now at Fairfield University, but not playing as a result of a knee injury.

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