Three Woodland soccer teams competed in the state championships at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila on Saturday, Dec. 11, with two taking home the win.
The Reign of the U-11 division and the Tornadoes of the U-14 division secured wins with a final score of 3-0 and 2-0, respectively, while the Blue Storm of the U-12 division lost 5-1.
All three teams are part of the Pacific Soccer Club.
“In recreational soccer, usually you just play the season and that’s it,” said Jeff Flanagan, the coach of Reign and Blue Storm. “As they get to U-11 and U-12, they now offer a post-season tournament.”
The U-11 division has players who were born in 2011, while U-12 is for those born in 2010, and U14 for players born in 2008.
Flanagan said in early November, all three teams won in their respective regional tournaments. They then advanced to the quarterfinals of the state tournament and ended the season at the state championships on Dec. 11.
To get to the semi-finals, the Reign beat the Vancouver Wildcats 2-0 in the regional championship, the Blue Storm beat Montesano’s Green Gems 2-1, and Reign lost to the Wildcats in Round Robin, but ended up beating them in the championship, Flanagan said.
“We started in August and now we’re in December, practicing in the cold, darkness and rain,” he said. “I coach a lot of school sports, because I teach (computer skills) at the middle school here in Woodland, and it’s longer than these older kids’ seasons, but the families are excited. I know we’ll be glad to wrap up the season, though.”
On Blue Storm, a couple players that stand out to Flanagan are mid-forward Jillian Lutzenberger and center-midfielder Makynzie Guthrie. Lutzenberger is described as the “fastest player in the league,” and a “nightmare matchup” who can “defeat pretty much any defender off the dribble.” Gurhrie is described as “the smartest player out there” in regards to field spacing, who anticipates where to be and distributes the ball well, Flanagan said.
For the Reign team, two notable players are Verity Ingle and Payton Hardin, who Flanagan describes as “smart, physical, aggressive defenders” and “the backbone of our defense who have helped reach a lot of our success on the team.”
Flanagan used to be the head coach of the Woodland girls’ varsity soccer team for over 10 years, but retired from that to focus on his daughters, who are also part of the Reign and Blue Storm teams. Dale Beckwith and Fred Jenkins are a few coaches he said were inspirations to him.
“I know the years I had success as a high school coach is because I had dads and moms volunteering to coach youth teams, and bring them up, so we’re excited,” Flanagan said.
Woodland is currently building the Scott Hill Sports Complex, where soccer players can play. “That would help in the continued success of different sports programs in our community,” Flanagan said.
He added that it’s being built because there’s “not a lot of good soccer fields” in Woodland. His brother, Rob, worked on an irrigation line at Promise Church, which has helped open another soccer field for the team to practice on in the summer as well.
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