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The Cougars improved in total wins, fewer losses, more goals and fewer goals conceded over the course of the 2022 season

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Canby sophomore McKenzie Bigej drives the ball up the field in the Cougars final game of 2022 against Wilsonville. The team finished the season 5-9 overall and 4-4 in the NWOC.

Even with its season at an end, the move to 5A ultimately proved fruitful for the Canby girls soccer team. After finishing tied for sixth in the Three Rivers League (TRL) in its last season as a 6A program, the Cougars wound up 4-4 in the Northwest Oregon Conference (NWOC).

"I'm pretty impressed with how we've done this season," Canby head coach Dallas Hill said. "I think that we've accomplished a lot of our goals. We've grown a lot. We have taken a lot of positive things out of what we've learned this season. I think in the end obviously everyone would like to say that, you know, they had a winning season or they won league, or even won state. But I think that for these girls, they're just happy that they are improving and they can feel themselves getting better."

Canby was buoyed by new coach Hill, who previously coached the 5A state champion Wilsonville squad. After getting her squad through a turbulent non-league portion of the season, the Cougars started to rattle off wins and find the back of the net more consistently.

Scoring was something hard to come by in 2021, where Canby put up just nine goals in 14 games. In 2022, the Cougars more than doubled their offensive output, notching 22 goals to their names. Defensively the team improved as well. Last season Canby gave up 36 goals, compared to 26 this season.

According to Hill, the 4-3-3 formation the team operated in was key to the uptick in scoring from last season to 2022.

"Having fast forwards on the wings, as outside forwards and just having a playmaker in the middle…I think Kenzie (Bigej) played a lot of the nine last year and I think pulling her back into that 10 spot really helped her play-make," Hill said. "She was able to play-make and make decisions and I think serve balls to our attack. I think we also realized that we can be really successful off free kicks and corners and set pieces and so we kind of took on that as part of our identity, that we're going to be a set piece team, we're going to score goals off set pieces."

And with goalkeeper McKenna Kraft and center-back Allison Mead directing the team from the back, the team was able to cut down on the goals given up over the course of the year.

Canby finished the season 5-9 overall and fifth in the NWOC, missing out on the at-large bid but showing empirical improvement. The season might be over, but the work doesn't end for Hill and her coaching staff.

"We are a special team, and I think that we've got a lot of growth to do but I think that these girls are worth it and they know that they're worth it," Hill said. "I think that they look forward to next year as well, like they know that they will improve. They see that in themselves and so I guess we'll see what happens next year and beyond that, it's like nine months away. I think that we're already preparing, we're already kind of doing our due diligence and we're ready for another season."

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