Lauren Pyrch has yet to step on the sideline as West Linn's new girls soccer coach, but she knows what's going on.
She knows how to find the school, the field and the locker room. She probably even knows the best place to sit in the stands and the best spot to take a penalty kick.
That's because Pyrch, named at the end of June to succeed former head coach Kelli Cronkrite, was playing in the Lions' green and gold just six short years ago. Most recently, she served the past year as an assistant coach with the women's soccer team at her college alma mater, Linfield College.
For Pyrch, a 2011 West Linn graduate who also played softball, coming home to coach has been nothing short of a thrill.
"I feel so overwhelmed, happy and honored to be here," said Pyrch, 24. "I never would have left (Linfield) to coach anywhere else but here."
Pyrch already has a solid history of success on the soccer pitch, helping the Lions break Clackamas' stranglehold on the Three Rivers League title in her junior and senior seasons. West Linn won the TRL both those years (2009-10), reaching the state quarterfinals in 2009 and the second playoff round in 2010.
She had more success at Linfield, too, with her Wildcats finishing second to the University of Puget Sound all four years, posting a stellar 16-2-2 record in 2012.
Indeed, it was because of her great experiences on the pitch — both at West Linn and at Linfield — that Pyrch advanced into the realm of coaching after she graduated with her degree in business management in 2014.
Pyrch initially worked for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, then after a year away from Linfield, joined the Wildcats women's soccer team as an assistant coach.
"I played for the current (Linfield) head coach, the previous head coach and for two of the assistants — for me it was like the dream team," Pyrch said. "I loved playing for them and coaching with them."
And Pyrch, now a realtor with Keller Williams in Southwest Portland, had every intention of returning to Linfield for the 2017-18 season, too, but her deep roots in West Linn led to a different outcome.
"My dad went to West Linn (High School) and still lives there so we'd go to games together when we could," she said. "My dad heard second-hand that (the girls coaching job) was open, the school's only three miles from home and it's my alma mater. I'm just really excited and honored to be part of the program."
As to the program, West Linn was one of the state's best in 2016, with Cronkrite leading the Lions to a third-place finish in the Three Rivers League, a 10-5-3 overall record and a berth in the Class 6A state semifinals (where they lost just 3-2 to eventual state champion Sherwood). In 2015, the team went 10-3-4 overall and reached the state quarterfinals.
"I can't wait to get out on the field to see what we have," Pyrch said, noting her excitement that the school's junior varsity and JVII coaches both agreed to continue with the program, as has varsity assistant Teale Iacolucci. "I'm very technical-oriented and very fitness-oriented, but I also want to make sure that everyone has fun and wants to come back and says they had a great experience."
So far, she's been impressed with what she's seen.
"I asked about the parents, the girls, the community, the school — there were lots of different facets," she said of her interview for the coaching job. "I asked the girls about their goals and they said one of their yearly goals is to do better than the year before.
"What a big set of shoes to fill. Kelli (Cronkrite) did a great job here."
Now, Pyrch just can't wait to get started. Conditioning and skills work begins at the end of July, tryouts are scheduled for mid-August and games will begin just two weeks after that.
"I just want to give back to the community and would love to have everyone's support," she added.