They’ve been there before.

The Valley Catholic girls’ soccer team desperately want to get back.

The Valiants, for all their success last season, want to wash away the bitter taste of dropping the 3A State Championship game last year, 2-1, to Oregon Episcopal TIMES FILE PHOTO - Valley Catholic captain Sarah Connelly and the Lady Valiants are primed to make a return to the 3A State Championship Game after taking second last year.

With the great deal of talent Valley Catholic has returning and a wholesome amount of motivation driving them, the Valiants appear primed for a return run to the title game.

“They know what it takes to get to a state championship and are willing to put in the work to get there again,” said head coach Kayla Crandall. “We are all excited for the season, and the girls are working hard and getting better each day. The girls worked very hard on the off season and have been working very hard so far this season, and they are all a year older.”

Crandall said Valley Catholic’s three new captains this year: Makenzee Cleveland, Erin McLoughlin and Sarah Connelly have really stepped up in the past few weeks and have become very strong leaders.

More so, they’re blinding fast. Cleveland is the 3A reigning 100-meter-dash champion, and she anchored the Valiants’ state title winning 4 x 100 team.

“They work hard, and the rest of the team respects them,” said Crandall. “Connelly was the leading goalscorer on our team the last two years, and I expect that it won’t be much different this year.”

Reilly Blood (a part of the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 state title-winning relay teams) had a great off-season and will look to put some more goals in the back of the net. by: TIMES FILE PHOTO - Valley Catholic captain Makenzee Cleveland is one of the fastest players on the Valiants and one of the teams leaders on the pitch.

Ella Turkott, a 6-foot transfer from Catlin Gabel School, will also contribute scoring-wise with a majority coming off her head, according to Crandall.

Cleveland and McLoughlin are the Valiants’ two outside backs who will continue to provide some strong attack on the outside for the squad by getting up and down that line.

Valley Catholic’s starting goalkeeper Amanda Carrera is back in the net for her third year.

“She is a very talented goalkeeper that just keeps getting better year after year,” said Crandall.

Valley Catholic graduated four seniors last year, but was still a young team with many freshmen played large roles during the season.

Sophomore defender Jessi Beyer, sophomore midfielders Meredith Woolverton and Sophia Cowles, senior midfielder Mikaela Bernards, junior goalie Katie Vames and sophomore defender Regan Torres all return from the second-place team.

Marcela Jaroch — a fast 5-foot-5 midfielder who dabbles in cross country — and senior midfielder Addie Flemmer are newcomers to the squad.

The Valiants went undefeated in the Special District One last season (6-0-2), though Crandall expects league play to be savage as it always seems to be. by: TIMES FILE PHOTO - Valley Catholics Reilly Blood and Grayce Kelly return to a talented Valiant team that won the Special District One last season.

This year, Crandall said, there is a little extra on the table because it is the last year Valley Catholic will be playing in 3A. Next year, the Valiants are advancing to the 4A ranks.

“Our league will prove to be the best in the state again with the league title completely up for grabs,” said Crandall.

“We have built some strong rivalries through the years, and I am sure we will schedule some preseason games with them in the future. It’s just the last time we will play them in league.”

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