Senior-Laden Pirates Embrace Tough Non-League Schedule 

THE TEST: Adna Girls Soccer Faces Stiff Competition Early On In Hopes of Preparing for Postseason

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One of Adna girls soccer coach Horst Malunat’s main goals this offseason was to schedule tougher competition.

The Pirates cruised through the regular season last year, breaking off a seven-game win streak to capture the 2B Central League’s North Division title. And they weren’t just winning games, they were blowing opponents sky high.

Adna used a high-powered offense to lead the league with 50 goals, and a staunch defense by allowing just two goals all season while registering three 10-0 shutout victories. But playing in a North Division that was a step below a stacked South Division did little to prepare the Pirates for the postseason.

They beat Stevenson in the quarterfinals before falling 2-1 to eventual district-champion Kalama in the semifinals, snapping their eight-game win streak and ending their season.

This year, Malunat is making sure his team faces adversity early and often in hopes of bringing home some hardware at the end of the year.

The Pirates begin competition against Class 2A Centralia at a preseason jamboree on Thursday, then face Class 1A Tenino, the co-1A Evergreen League champs, immediately after. If that wasn’t enough, they take on 1A District 4 champion Montesano in their season opener on Sept. 9 and Class 1A La Center on Sept. 18.

This is exactly what Malunat was looking for.

“I wanted a tough schedule,” Malunat said. “I think we were lacking that last year, and we didn’t get a preseason because of COVID. This year, I go, ‘Hey, we’re gonna face some good teams.’ It doesn’t matter if we’re regular-season champions. At the end is where we want to improve.”

Though they’ll have stiff competition from the get go, the Pirates have the experience and talent to counter it. Returning is a huge class of 12 seniors, many of which are four-year varsity players, including 10 who have been playing together since they were 3 years old.

“It’s been crazy, just the journey that we’ve had together,” senior attacking mid Presley Smith said. “This is the last year we have to play together, or some of us to ever play again. This is gonna be it.”

Senior forward/midfielder Sadie Burdick said they want to be known for their connection as a team.

“We’re doing everything we can to make it to the end,” Burdick said. “It’s our last year together. We want to all be close — and win.”

The team’s success could hinge on how well the seniors play together and embrace their roles, Malunat said. Having a dozen of them can be a double-edged sword.

“Teams I’ve coached before with a lot of seniors, if they have good leadership and they’re motivated, it adds to the team’s success,” Malunat said. “But if they’re like, ‘Eh, it’s my senior year. I don’t care,’ then it can bring the team down. The seniors will be a critical part of our success. I don’t want to blame them if we lose, but they’re the critical mass. They’re the group that’s going to decide things because I could start 11 seniors, really.”

The Pirates will be anchored by returning three of their top four scorers from a year ago. Back is senior forward Kaylin Todd, who led the team with nine goals to go with two assists. Seniors Macy Kalnoski, who is moving into goal this year, scored eight goals with three assists, Summer White scored six goals and dished out three assists while Smith registered four goals and five assists.

“We have a lot of offensive threats,” Malunat said. “We’re really balanced on defense, too. We’re just a really balanced team.”

The league divisions will be the same as last year, with Adna, Forks, Ocosta, Napavine, South Bend and Ilwaco in the North Division. The South Division is made up of Winlock, Onalaska, Toledo, Toutle Lake, Kalama and Stevenson.

Unlike last year, there will be crossover games this time, which means Adna will get to face Kalama in a rematch on Sept. 15, South Division champion Onalaska on Sept. 20 and Stevenson, a district-playoff contestant, on Sept. 22.

“We get to see (Onalaska and Toledo), because last year we didn’t have any non-league,” Malunat said. “In our league, Ocosta is competitive but we had some games where at halftime it was over.”

But first up for the Pirates is the preseason jamboree on Thursday, with the 5 p.m. game against Centralia and then Tenino at 5:30. It’ll be a good test for a hungry Pirates team looking to avenge last year’s exit at the district playoffs. If the team bands together, Malunat sees no limit for this team.

“If they buy in, it’ll be the internal versus the external threat,” Malunat said. “If we come together, we’ll do well. And right now, I think that’s going to happen. Adversity hits and you find out a lot about your team. When you get into the tough games, it’s how you respond. But I’m optimistic, I’m excited. I think we’ll do well.”