CONFIDENCE IS KEY: St. Helens girls' soccer 'most talented we've ever had'
Is this the year the Lions get back to Class 5A state?
After missing the play-in round behind Northwest Oregon Conference rival Putnam by a single match last fall, St. Helens' senior defense will fight to keep them in the hunt.
With Morgan Bingaman in goal and her fellow fourth-year players Sidney Allen, Emily Davis, Emilia Reardon, Sarah Bjork, Cora Beaudry and Gracie Smith on her back line, it's about playing together.
"We are all looking foward to a winning season this year," Bingaman said. "Everybody is so talented and has her own talents, and we know how to use all of our talents together ... If we really work hard in every game and put heart into it along with talent and work together, I believe we will make it to the playoffs."
Amanda Nichols, a junior, and Cora's sister, Lyla, a freshman, will advance the defense and the family dynamic.
Lindsey Harris and Myranda Northrop will control the pace as senior midfielders with junior Kennady Brown and freshman Maria Reardon, Emilia's sister.
Kaela Lee, a junior, and sophomores Mackenzie Carlson, Kelsey Elliott and Anessa Mandella are forwards and benificiaries of veteran ball control.
"I look forward to seeing how well we work together and progress as a team this year," Lee said. "Over the last couple of years, a few key players really stood out and worked their magic on the field. It feels very different this year: We all individually show our magic in different ways, which comes together well as a whole and makes us a lot better as a team."
St. Helens' opener at Class 6A second-rounder Glencoe on Aug. 29 at Hare Field in Hillsboro was cancelled due to poor air quality.
Instead, the Lions will open at home against Dallas and anticipated seniors Kloe Totten (a defender) and Jordyn Applegate (a forward) at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Doc Ackerson Stadium.
The next preseason highlight is a visit from Class 5A first-rounder Hermiston on Sept. 15.
"[The key is] confidence and belief in themselves," St. Helens coach Simon Date said. "We had a big talk about that and how to prepare for the season. I think this is the most talented group we've ever had top-to-bottom, so now they just need to believe it."
The true test will be conference play, just as it was last year, when St. Helens visits all-state junior forward Marley Salveter and defending conference champion-turned-quarterfinalist Sandy on Sept. 28.
From there, the Lions will host first-rounder Wilsonville on Oct. 10, visit all-state projected returning senior midfielder Madison Ellsworth and quarterfinalist Hillsboro on Oct. 18, and welcome expected all-state returning junior Allison Warta, sophomore Class 5A co-Player of the Year Jacqueline Blakeley and defending champion La Salle Prep in the regular season finale on Oct. 24.
"I'm looking forward to putting everything together we've been working on in practice the last few months and using it this season to try and reach our goal of playoffs one last time before all of the seniors, including me, graduate," Allen said. "I'm looking forward to shutting out a lot of goals this season with our back line. With it being all seniors, we have enough experience and skill to accomplish that goal. I think all of us are a really tight-knit group, and it's going to really help to rely on each other when it gets further into the season."
SEASON OUTLOOK: The Lions, with more seniors (nine) than La Salle's expected eight, will contend for the Northwest Oregon championship, but breaking away from the rest and reaching at least a play-in will be difficult as Milwaukie and Parkrose (seven), Hillsboro, Putnam, Sandy (6) and Wilsonville (5) imperil the conference schedule.
DALLAS AT ST. HELENS
Where: Doc Ackerson Stadium
When: 4:30 p.m. Tuesday
Kicking off: The Lions can beat the Class 5A play-in round Dragons for the second time in a row
ST. HELENS LIONS
Coach: Simon Date (Sixth year)
Classification: Class 5A, Northwest Oregon Conference
2016 finish: 8-6 overall, 2-5 Northwest Oregon Conference (Seventh in conference, missed postseason)
Morgan Bingman, sr., GK
Sidney Allen, sr., D
Sarah Bjork, sr., D
Emelia Reardon, sr., D
Emily Davis, sr., M
Lindsey Harris, sr., M
Myranda Northrop, sr., M
Kennady Brown, jr., M
Kaela Lee, jr., F
Mackenzie Carlson, so., F
Kelsey Elliott, so., F
Cora Beaudry, sr., D
Gracie Smith, sr., D
Amanda Nichols, jr., D
Lyla Beaudry, fr., D
Maria Reardon, fr., M
Anessa Mandella, so., F
Sept. 5 Dallas at St. Helens, 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 7 St. Helens at Astoria, 7:15 p.m.
Sept. 12 St. Helens at Madison, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 Hermiston at St. Helens, 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 21 St. Helens at The Dalles, 4 p.m.
Sept. 26 South Albany at St. Helens, 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 28 St. Helens at Sandy, 7 p.m. *
Oct. 3 Parkrose at St. Helens, 7 p.m. *
Oct. 5 St. Helens at Milwaukie, 7 p.m. *
Oct. 10 Wilsonville at St. Helens, 7 p.m. *
Oct. 17 St. Helens at Hillsboro, 4:30 p.m. *
Oct. 19 Putnam at St. Helens, 7 p.m. *
Oct. 24 La Salle Prep at St. Helens, 7 p.m. *
* - Northwest Oregon Conference match