Coumbia River girls soccer excited for challenge ahead

One day last week, the Columbia River girls soccer team enjoyed popsicles before training under 90-degree sunshine.

But don’t mistake the treats for an indication that the Chieftains are taking a laid-back approach to 2013.

Sure, they know that 2012 will be hard to top. How often do teams go unbeaten and win a state championship?

But this senior-led team (nine senior starters,  seven starters from 2012) doesn’t intend to spend 2013 in kicked-back mode.

“I don’t think we’re content with just winning state,” senior midfielder Emily Kleier said. “That’s not the end of it for us. We want to continue the legacy of being a good team” with girls who do their part on and off the field.

In some ways, the Chieftains are ahead of where they were a season ago, when Filomon Afenegus was their new coach and the players and Afenegus were learning about each other. One example, according to senior defender Ana Delgadillo, is that it took two days this year to get basic defensive schemes in place. Last year, more than a week was spent learning the scheme, she said.

Delgadillo returns as a central defender, and Lindsay Hurley returns at outside back. Defense was the backbone of last season’s championship run. And that won’t change this season, Afenegus said.

“Defense is definitely going to be our strength,” he said.

Defense might be the foundation — which is the case for most championship soccer teams — but River doesn’t lack for firepower on offense. The Chieftains scored 77 goals last season. Charlene Burger, Easton Kawawaki and Madison Reynolds lead the attack.

“My job is to keep all these girls hungry,” Afenegus said.

Kleier and Delgadillo don’t see complacency as a problem. Both said they are looking forward to the challenge of getting every opponent’s best shot.

“We’re playing to keep our name up there as a top soccer program,” Delgadillo said.

The target on the Chieftains adds to the anticipation, Kleier said.

“It makes me more excited,” Kleier said. “Knowing the other teams are going to come after us makes it easier to get ready for a game.”

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