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Kent McCarty has high expectations for this year's team

Longtime area youth soccer coach Kent McCarty has taken the helm as head coach of Milwaukie High School’s girls soccer program. McCarty replaces Milwaukie High School Spanish teacher Matt Prenger, who served as head coach for one year.JOHN DENNY - This years senior class is special for Milwaukie High School coach Kent McCarty. He was the first coach for many of the seniors, when they first started playing soccer as kindergartners. McCarty is pictured with athletes who are expected to play for him this fall as seniors: (left to right) Citlaly Ramirez, Tori Pixley, Brittany Smail, Samantha Persad, Claire Adams, Krista Sanford and Emily McCarty.

“Being a head coach is a huge time commitment and Matt found that it took more time than he had anticipated,” McCarty said of Prenger’s decision not to return.

This is McCarty’s sixth consecutive season with the Milwaukie High School girls soccer program. He’s been head jayvee coach the past three seasons. He also assisted in Milwaukie High School’s program in 2002 and 2005, and he assisted at Rex Putnam High School 2007-2009.

McCarty, 44, is a 1989 graduate of Milwaukie High School. He did not play soccer in high school but began coaching the sport 16 years ago when he coached his older daughter Samantha’s Milwaukie Soccer Club team.

“I fell in love with it from the start,” said McCarty, who has owned and operated Great American Video and Expresso in Milwaukie since 1993. “I was on the sidelines watching one of Samantha’s games and I saw this chaotic team. I do improv acting and it’s a lot like improv. There so much room for creativity.”

McCarty went full bore, going to clinics and learning everything he could about the sport. In his first year of coaching, he got his F License; the second year, his E License; the third, year, his D License.

Now he’s working on his C License. Kent and his wife Susan have become soccer fanatics. They have season tickets to the Thorns games and to the University of Portland’s women’s games; and he plans to play in an open co-ed league with his daughter Samantha this fall.

McCarty has been deeply involved with youth soccer since 1999, coaching youth teams ranging from U-6 to U-15 for Milwaukie Soccer Club and Thelo United.

He served as Thelo president 2006-2011; director of coaching for the Milwaukie Soccer Club 2004-2009, and as president of Willamette Youth Soccer Association 2005-2012.

McCarty says he is excited about taking over the high school program this year, not only because the program is on the upswing, but because several of the seniors on the team started playing soccer for him when he first started coaching his younger daughter Emily as a kindergartner.

“I’m familiar with all of the girls,” McCarty. “All of them have played for me at one time. All of the ones who have been playing at the varsity level have had a break from me. Now, in their final year of high school, I get to coach them again. It’s exciting!”

With seven seniors on this year’s squad, along with some experienced underclassmen who saw varsity action last year, McCarty says he believes the Mustangs have a good chance of advancing to the state playoffs this fall.

Asked when was the last time a Milwaukie girls soccer team advanced to postseason play, McCarty said, “I don’t know, but I know it’s been a long time. Too long. I’m hopeful that we will be able to continue to develop the program so that we get to the playoffs on a regular bases.”

McCarty noted that while the Mustang varsity finished with an overall record of 3-9-2 last year, a lot of the losses were in close games. The Mustangs last season scored 30 goals, to 36 goals by their opponents.

“We were involved in a lot of close matches,” McCarty said. “I believe we will turn those close matches into wins this season and earn a playoff spot.”

McCarty has named Tracy Sand as his varsity assistant.

“She has a tremendous amount of experience,” he said. “She was a former ODP player in Washington, and she’s been both a goalkeeper and a field player.”

Mike Gallaway returns to coach in the program for a seventh season and his daughter Elizabeth will be helping out this year, McCarty says.

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