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Despite disappointing results in postseason, expectations still high for next year

ARCHIVE PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Molalla's Emma AndrewsWhile Molalla was ultimately forced from the playoffs early on, the road to that point was not easy.

The preseason was kicked off with a matchup against future 3A/2A/1A champion Oregon Episcopal (OES), where the result was a 5-0 loss in late August. After that, Molalla traveled through several valleys (Hidden Valley, Valley Catholic, and North Valley) and was outscored 10-1 in those encounters.

It was after the OES loss that head coach Nina Wegner and her team believed they had what was needed to make a run through the league.

"The girls came out first half playing so well together," Wegner said. "It was awesome soccer to watch, especially against such an amazing team. That was when we knew that we had a chance this year, as long as we worked hard and continued to improve then we had a chance."

Entering the regular season 0-4, the team assessed what it wanted out of the 2018 gauntlet. Molalla still aimed for the top.

"(The preseason) helped us see the areas we needed to work on as a team, and I think it also helped us set realistic goals for ourselves," Wegner said. "We made the goal to win league and make it farther this year in state, but unfortunately it didn't pan out. But we know what we need to work on, and that is very helpful."

Ultimately the team came up short of the Tri-Valley Conference (TVC) championship, but they were only one game back from league champions Gladstone with an 8-1-1 record. Despite settling for silver, the team was still ranked 10th in the state when the postseason had begun.

Wegner noted improvement in several of her key players over the course of the season.

"(Seniors) Cassidy Burke and Emma Andrews grew tremendously since last season," Wegner said. "Emma gained so much power in her crosses, and was more composed on the field this year. Cassidy was my butterfly, she just became a whole new athlete this year. Our keeper, (junior) Raelynne Nogle also has gained more confidence each year, and this year she was voted MVP by her teammates."

While seeing growth in her players, Wegner also turned the critical eye on herself and her coaches. According to Wegner, personalizing coaching to each player and to one another is a way to build the future up.

"Communication with each girl changes as we get to know each player, and as they grow each year the relationships change," Wegner said. "And not just the relationships with each player, but with our administrators and fellow coaches. The goal is to improve our program and to make it the best we possibly can for upcoming players."

Wegner ultimately is happy of the streak her team put together, the future of the program, and for the seniors future.

"I am very proud of the girls," Wegner said. "It was such a fun season, and I am excited to see where these seniors go. As for my returning players, keep an eye on them. They are going to come out more fierce and fired up next season."

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