Last week when the Tenino High School girls soccer team voted on team captains, there were almost too many options. Bringing back 11 seniors, and a healthy group of contributors from a successful 2020 season, five players earned 10 or more votes from their peers.
In a normal year, head coach Kevin Schultz and his staff would pick two captains, and the third spot would be voted on by the team. This season, the Beavers have lots of leadership to go around.
“All the seniors, we’ve grown up together,” senior Megan Letts said. “We’ve been brought up together and now it's our senior year, we just get to lead the show all on our own.”
And perhaps this roster is the perfect assortment of experience, depth, and versatility, after losing the services of all-area MVP Brieanna Dell, who amassed 106 career goals for the Beavers over a four year career.
Losing a player of Dell’s caliber will undoubtedly be a big loss, but Tenino is excited about the possibilities of a more balanced offensive attack this fall.
“I feel like it’s better this year because everyone can shoot, they won’t know who to guard,” senior Grace Vestal said. “It'll be more fun for all of us.”
After a state quarterfinals berth in 2019, and another successful season that saw them lose in the district title game last season against Montesano, with the stakes back on this fall, the goal for a state title is back on the table.
“We want to be there,” Schultz said. “These girls, a lot of these girls have been competing for three to four years, they know what’s out there. They want to win it. It’s exciting, for sure.
“We also have to get there. The experience is great, but one thing we learned last year is we didn’t necessarily reach all the goals we had. You don’t get those things just because you want them, you have to earn them.”
That’s the kicker for the Tenino girls this season. Though they’ve had an immensely successful run of late, and won all but one game last season, that one loss sticks out.
“Losses motivate you more than wins,” Vestal said. “We’ll come back stronger this year.”
With the added motivation of state this season, and wanting to improve from last season and win a district title, Tenino has lofty goals for themselves this season. That’s the perfect attitude Schultz wants to build for this Beavers squad.
“They really understand how we want to play and things we want to do which makes it great for us, because during practice we can get to work and they can be coaches on the field,” Schultz said.
Tenino’s success didn’t just end after the spring season either, it continued its strong play into summer ball, not dropping a single match during its tournaments over the offseason. Summer is where everything is built, and the Beavers think their success over the summer will directly translate early this season.
Opening against 2A Centralia next Tuesday, after a jamboree contest on Thursday, the Beavers know they have the chemistry, depth, and talent to go as far as they want to.
“It’s very loving, everyone is friends, there’s no drama on the team,” Vestal said of the team culture. “You come to practice, you have fun and you work hard. It’s fun to be on.”
All of that will be put to the test this season for the Beavers, whose players all echoed the same sentiment when asked what the goal was this season.
“It brings a lot more excitement and a lot more motivation because we got it taken away last year,” Letts said. “We’re really hoping to get back into the state playoffs.”