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Canby returns 12 players from last season's team that reached the second round of the state playoffs.

PMG PHOTO: DEREK WILEY - Canby sophomore Joey Baguio will help lead the Cougars attack in 2019.

Canby ended the 2018 season on a high note.

Entering the playoffs as the No. 21 seed, the Cougars upset No. 12 Glencoe and then battled No. 5 Sunset, before falling 3-2 in double overtime.

"We really exceeded the expectations that we had by competing the way that we did in the playoffs, win or lose," Canby coach Maria VanAcker said. "There were a series of things that happened that was due to a lack of experience in that type of playoff game. We're really looking forward to turning those results around and leveraging that experience in those games and really getting some good results."

Those playoff games brought the Cougars together.

"These girls left everything they had out there," VanAcker said. "I think what came from last season was the bond. When you go into battle like that with 18 of your closest friends, you really learn a lot about each other and you really start to trust each other, and I can really tell a difference during tryouts this year and this summer of that bond and the relationships and the trust that they've built for each other, it's really carried over from last year."

Canby returns 12 players from last season's playoff run, including midfielder Ellie Shorter, who was voted a team captain as a sophomore.

"She's a great leader in the middle of the field with her play," VanAcker said. "She really sets the tone and the standard for how the game is going to go through the middle."

Joey Baguio, who started last season as a freshman, also returns as forward.

"She is very fast and that's no secret anymore," VanAcker said. "We're really looking forward to her growth and development over the last year since she's last been with us. We're really looking to continue to use her as a threat."

Junior Zoe Thompson and sophomore Makena Speer should also be scoring threats.

"We're going to have a lot of goal scorers this year," VanAcker said. "As we continue to grow and progress as a program, what also comes from that is the diversity in our game and how we attack and score. I'm looking forward to a lot of goal scorers this year."

This season will be Thompson's third on the varsity team.

"Zoe is a very calm player and can control the game when we need her to and she's a very diverse player," VanAcker said.

On defense, senior Ally Odell is returning to control the back line.

"We're looking forward to her real dominant presence both skill wise and physically," VanAcker said.

The Cougars also have a three-year starter at goalkeeper in senior captain Halle Adair.

"She has some really great experience and confidence," VanAcker said. "We'll really look to her to scan the entire field of what she can see and her vision in the back."

VanAcker expects the Three Rivers League to be as tough as ever, especially now that the Cougars are on everyone's radar.

"We have made a name for ourselves," she said. "People are starting to hear about us and they show up to play us, so we have to be ready every single night."

Canby's theme this year is "celebrate each other."

"Part of the reason why we had so much success last year and I'm excited to watch the girls on the field this year, is because of the respect and confidence and trust that they have in each other," VanAcker said. "They are very good soccer players but they're even better teammates and that's the bond that they have. It will be very visible in their style of play."

Derek Wiley
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