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Sliding save

Hateya Richardson makes a sliding save against Claryssa Barone at Klamath Union’s practice on Wednesday, Aug. 21. The Pelicans open their season on Tuesday, Sept. 3 against Ashland.

A year ago, the Klamath Union girls soccer team was young. Really young. Freshmen on the varsity roster outnumber seniors seven to one which led to a 3-10 overall record.

Now, the Klamath Union girls soccer team is still young.

“This year we are still pretty young, the sophomore class and incoming freshman class are going to bring a lot of players,” said head coach Beth Narramore. “Senior wise, we are having three. So we are still young.”

But those young players now have varsity experience and have faced the state’s top teams and players.

Also working in the Pelicans’ favor is a deeper pool of players compared to previous seasons. A year ago, Narramore was uncertain if there would be players to field a JV team. That’s not the case for the 2019 campaign.

“This year we are well on our way, we have 32 girls out,” the second-year head coach said. “Historically speaking that’s really good for the KU program, we have a lot of freshmen coming in with some experience so we are ready for an exciting season.”

In 2017 and 2018, KU managed to win just two Skyline Conference games. The Pelicans record during those two seasons were a combined 4-15-1.

Narramore is confident that her team is on the upswing and will be more competitive for several reasons. First, her team is more experienced than last year. Second, other teams need to replace more players.

Hidden Valley, the defending state champs, graduated nine players from their roster. North Valley, needs to replace Class 4A’s Player of the Year and state champion sprinter, Baylee Touey.

“I think Hidden Valley is still going to be good, but they graduated a lot of girls, they are almost a brand new team,” Narramore said. “North Valley (Baylee) Touey is amazing she’s no longer there but her two younger sisters (Kaylee and Karlee) and are still playing. Mazama graduated a couple and so did Henley so I think that we will be competitive this year.”

A year ago, Klamath Union gave up the most goals in the conference and only Marshfield gave up more goals in all of 4A. Despite that, it’s the backline with Shanelle Balbin, Aubrey Say and McKinley Cason that puts Narramore’s mind at ease which will allow the Pelicans to play a more up-tempo, offensive style of soccer.

“I think we are going to be offensively minded,” she said.. “We have a lot of girls returning and even the new kids have some forward experience. I think we will be more offensively focused.”

Klamath Union hasn’t reached the postseason since 2016 when it reached the play-in round and last reached the first round in 2015.

In her second season, Narramore thinks 2019 is all about keeping the right mindset.

“Trusting the girls and making sure that we stay positive,” Narramore said. “I now they have it in them to be gritty and win. If we keep things spun positively then I believe they can fight back.”

The Pelicans open their season on Tuesday, Sept. 3 when they host Ashland at 5 p.m.