The former Canby High student-athlete replaces long-time coach Ben Winegar

HERALD FILE PHOTO: COREY BUCHANAN - Photo of Canby girls soccer player Jennah Morris

Canby native Maria VanAcker has signed on to be the new Canby High girls soccer coach.

VanAcker replaces Ben Winegar – who coached the team for eight seasons.

With Winegar at the helm, the Cougars reached the state quarterfinals in 2012, lost in the first round of the playoffs in 2013 and 2016 and lost in the playoff play-in round in 2014 and 2015.

VanAcker played youth soccer in the Canby area, graduated from Canby High in 2005 and went on to play college soccer at University of Idaho and Seattle University.

"Having competed at a high level in high school, club and college, I can bring experience to the table," VanAcker said.

Previously, VanAcker coached youth soccer in Seattle and for an under-14 Canby youth soccer team.

"Canby has given me so much over the years and has been really gracious to me. It feels really good to give back and start building the program," VanAcker said.

VanAcker hopes to help her athletes grow and attain personal fulfillment.

"My goal is to help each individual athlete grow to be a hard working, strong, resilient young women. Each will have a very important role in the program regardless of their skill level," VanAcker said.

VanAcker says she will develop specific strategies and a style of play once she gets to know the girls and sees them play.

"We will decide x's and o's down the road. My main goal is to develop a program atmosphere and to get to know the girls and give them the ability to leave this program and go out in the community and make an impact in whatever they choose to pursue. That's my goal in the near term," she said.

She says soccer is a great way to learn about life and develop good habits.

"Personally, the game of soccer is so powerful and such an influence in my life. It's an incredible opportunity to teach life lessons – how to be a dedicated team member, how to play a role, how to work hard, overcome barriers and how to be a leader in the community," she said.

VanAcker will host a youth soccer camp from July 17-20 at Canby High School.

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