Mountainside girls soccer still building despite success
It's a new school year, and with it comes a new generation of Mountainside girls soccer players.
Since head coach Travis Schoonover became the school's inaugural head coach in 2017, the director of youth development for the Lake Oswego Soccer Club has led the Mavericks to a combined 36-9-3 varsity record and a state semifinal and finals berth, as well as coached more than a handful of all-league and all-state performers.
But with the program's initial core gone to graduation, Schoonover said this year's team is working to find its own identity on the fly against some of the state's best competition.
The team is off to a 3-0-1 start, with non-league wins over Franklin, Sherwood, and South Eugene, plus a tie against Tualatin of the Three Rivers League. So, while there's still plenty of work to be done, the fifth-year head coach has been pleased with the results and remains excited about what's to come as the Metro League slate approaches.
"So far, so good," Schoonover said. "We've got a really good core of seniors, and they've done a really good job of incorporating the new players into the group. We play in a tough league, and we usually have a pretty tough non-league schedule as well, so it's difficult, but we're definitely ready for state when it gets here."
The Mavericks return eight players from last year's team, four of whom were starters.
Schoonover said he expected big things from his two team captains, senior defenseman Sierra Nees and fellow senior midfielder Emma Rogers, along with junior midfielder Hana Sawan. The coach said all three have stepped up in the absence of the departed senior class, and it's been that leadership that allowed the team to come together in such a short period of time.
"All three have done a great job of making the new players feel comfortable," Schoonover said. "They've actually done some things on their own, and that's something we really haven't had in the past. I think that's helped kind of get the team together pretty early."
The coach said that he expects the attack at both the forward and midfield positions to be the strength of their team, but he believes their back end to be an area in need of improvement. He primarily attributes that to a lack of experience.
Schoonover is confident in the group as a whole, adding that he's been pleased with the early performance of freshman goalkeeper Issabelle Cory, who has made a bevy of big saves against formidable early-season opposition.
Cory is replacing senior standout Presley Gauthier in the net, but Schoonover said he's confident in the freshman, who has shown early on that she's up to the challenge.
"She's been great," the coach said. "Being a freshman in a position like goalie, where if you make a mistake people are definitely going to know it, it's been great to see her do some good things. She's definitely going to be a player to watch for the next four years."
Despite the success of the past three seasons, Schoonover hesitates to say his program has "arrived." He understands that they've had just one graduating class enter and exit the program, so comparing them to the state's elite programs on a year-in and year-out basis might be a bit premature.
Having said that, he aims to be one of those teams that's annually in the mix for league and state titles.
"That's definitely where I'd like things to be," Schoonover said. "The program's done pretty well, but hopefully we can continue that on for the next couple of years. It's hard to sustain success."
With that said, do he and the team have goals? Of course.
"We talk about winning league and winning state," Schoonover said. "Those things may not seem as attainable as they have been the past two years, possibly, but that should always be goals of ours, and hopefully we're in a position where those are attainable."
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