Schweighardt, Waite, Jones expected to carry the offense
Fourth place appears to be the magic spot for the North Marion girls soccer team.
In each of the last four seasons, the Huskies have finished behind league foes Gladstone, Molalla and La Salle in the conference standings.
Its always us four Molalla, Gladstone, La Salle and North Marion, said head coach Manuel Martinez.
Since Martinez took over the program three years ago, North Marion has earned three consecutive trips to the play-in round and two straight playoff berths.
While fourth place in the Tri-Valley carries a play-in berth, it also comes with a top-10 opponent in the first round of the playoffs, where the Huskies have been ousted by Mazama in 5-0 routes in each of the past two years.
In 2013, Martinez hopes to make one more playoff push before the team rebuilds around its incoming class of freshmen and sophomores.
In the past two years, weve had probably about 20 seniors go out of here, so theres a gap, and I think were in that gap now, said Martinez. Weve had three years now where weve gone to the playoffs, so this might be one more year that we get out of it.
The team is led by talented seniors: Hannah Waite at forward and defenders Miranda Audritsh and Rachel Dahlke. Waite is the teams top scorer returning from last year, and Audritsh and Dahlke give North Marion consistency in the defense, which was up and down in 2012.
The Huskies played strong defensively at times, producing five shutouts, including a 2-0 win the play-in round against Ontario, as well as a memorable 1-0 loss against the eventual state champion Gladiators. But the team also was overpowered at times against La Salle, Mazama and Gladstone, and gave up an average of two goals a game throughout the season.
The Huskies lost eight seniors from last years team that went 8-6-2 overall and 4-4-2 in conference play. While Martinez points to a small junior class as the reason he expects to be rebuilding in 2014, hell be relying on third-year players Marisa Jones and Hannah Schweighardt to help lead the team on offense this year.
(Jones will) be in the defense, but in the way we play, shell probably score most of our goals coming out of the defense, said Martinez.
The Huskies will play a modern 3-3-4 setup with four forwards attacking at the top of the field, but Martinez said the way the team plays, the Huskies will be more spread out.
If you go from the back, there are four defenders, he said. Then we have a holding midfielder that plays in the back. Then we have two midfielders and three forwards.
Between Jones, Schweighardt and Waite, North Marion will have a daunting task in replacing Jasmine Florez, who led the team with 16 goals last season.
After the teams seniors and juniors, North Marion boasts a wealth of underclassmen who Martinez expects will be ready to contribute in the coming seasons.
Im hoping that they come out and we have a young team and we start building again, he said. And I think thats what were in. Were in a couple years of building.