The Wolverines' talented class has come close to winning a state title in the past four years. Now they're looking to close the deal.
This post has been updated to correct an omission.
The 11 seniors on the roster of the Bellevue High School girls soccer team have had quite an impact on the program’s recent run of success.
Now, they are hoping to go out in style.
The Wolverines, led by six players who have won several state titles for Eastside FC Red ’98, clinched the school’s fourth consecutive KingCo 3A/2A regular-season title with Thursday’s 5-0 win over Interlake.
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Bellevue (13-0-2, 11-0-2 league), which reached the Class 3A state semifinals in 2013 and 2014 and bowed out in the first round to Arlington 1-0 last season, looks to seize the one trophy that has eluded the senior group the previous three seasons.
“This group of girls transformed the Bellevue soccer program,” said Bellevue first-year coach Peter Cochran, who returned to his Bellevue home after living in London for three years as part of his wife’s job. “In particular, the five girls from Eastside FC Red, they just win at every level. They’ve won the state title every year since they have been playing and they are one of few teams from Washington to win a national title at the club level.
“They are little disappointed that they have not done a little better in high school. That want to do something about that. We are just blessed to have a depth of talent for high-school program.”
The six Eastside FC players that have been the backbone of the program are forward JoJo Harber, midfielders Katie Foster, Sophie Butterfield and Ellie Bryant and defenders Maud van der Kooi and Catie Buck. That group is part of a senior class that has compiled a 60-11-2 record.
Prior to last season’s first-round state exit, the Wolverines placed at state for the first time in school history with a third place in 2013 and a fourth place in 2014.
“I inherited an incredible group of girls,” said Cochran, who played at Harvard University one year and finished at Santa Clara University in 1993 and has coached club teams for 15 years. “The Bellevue job has been absolutely fantastic. It’s been an absolute highlight. These girls are infamous for their success.
“Most of those seniors have been on varsity since their freshman year. Winning is a habit and through their club team, they’ve learned to win.”
The Wolverines, which have outscored foes 39-8 this season, are just one victory away from securing the program’s fourth trip in a row to the state tournament.
“They’ve been magnificent so far,” Cochran said. “My predecessor, Matt Dorman, was a great coach and did great things with this program. But the credit really needs go to this extraordinary senior class. Hopefully we can fulfill our potential and have a good run the remainder of the year.
“In any tournament run, you just need a little bit of luck. I know they are focused on putting together as long of a run as they can maintain.”
By winning their fourth KingCo 3A/2A regular season crown in a row, Bellevue earned the right to host the KingCo 3A championship on Saturday at 7 p.m. against the conference’s No. 2 seed — either Lake Washington, Mercer Island or Redmond.
The Wolverines came into this season without a proven goalkeeper after losing Brittley Gaan to graduation after her three strong seasons with the program.
Once again the Bellevue senior class came to the rescue by recruiting fellow senior Madi George to turn out for soccer for the first time. George, a proven athlete with All-KingCo 3A/2A first team honors in fastpitch as a shortstop, won the starting goalkeeper job and has been there ever since the first match.
George has been part of eight shutouts for the Wolverines this season, teaming with the defensive back line of seniors Buck, Nikole Pham and Maud van der Kooi and freshman right back Paige Satterlee.
“Madi George is a story all to herself,” Cochran said. “We were entering this year with this incredible group of seniors, but we didn’t really have returning goalkeeper in our program. We graduated a very good goalkeeper last year. That left a hole in the program at goalkeeper. So, the senior girls recruited Madi George to give soccer a try.
“She came out with very little goalkeeping experience, but with the experience of being a winner and being a fantastic athlete. She’s a great character kid.”
George’s progression in her new craft has been remarkable, playing every minute in goal.
“She’s not a 10-year keeper like a lot of the opponents we play, where they have a 10-year club goalkeeper,” Cochran said. “Every single game she’s gotten better. She’s earned some recognition. She’s an incredible shortstop [in softball], and there’s a lot of crossover technique in how to cover angles, shot-blocking and having incredible hand-eye coordination.
“That’s been one of the secrets to our success. She took a risk in trying out for a sport her senior year in high school with a bunch of girls who have been national champions and she walked into that without a single shred of fear.”
The return of fleet-footed and skilled Harber, who was in the U.S. National Team pool, has given the team a better offensive attack and she leads the team with 10 goals and four assists. Harber, the KingCo 3A/2A Most Valuable Player as a sophomore, sat out her junior year after knee surgery and to play club soccer.
“She’s extraordinary,” Cochran said. “She has a reputation all her own.”
Junior midfielder/forward Kiley Suter has added seven goals and seven assists this season.
Bellevue closes out the regular season with Senior Night at home against Juanita on Wednesday at 8 p.m.
Bunnell goes for career win No. 200 at Issaquah
The Issaquah girls soccer team plays at Newport on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. with a chance to give coach Tom Bunnell his 200th career victory with the Eagles.
The 13th-year coach owns a career mark of 199-36-16 and would’ve had the total last week if not for a 1-0 upset at the hands of KingCo 4A rival Woodinville on Oct. 18.
Bunnell’s Eagles, the defending Class 4A state champions, have been nationally ranked all season and sit at 11-1-2 this season heading into Tuesday’s regular-season finale in KingCo 4A.
Skyline leads the KingCo 4A race heading into this final week with a 11-0-2 and 35 points to Issaquah’s 10-1-2 and 32 points. The top two teams in KingCo 4A played to a pair of scoreless regular-season ties on Sept. 15 and Oct. 11.
Bunnell, 51, has guided Issaquah to four state titles — 2015 (4A), 2007 (3A), 2006 (3A) and 2004 (3A) — and eight state championship match appearances in his tenure. He has also directed five KingCo title runs and every one of his 12 previous seasons guided the team into the state tournament.
Two teams from Washington state — Seattle Prep at No. 9 and Issaquah at No. 20 — stayed in the Top 25 of the national rankings from National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).
Three teams from Washington state are in the NSCAA’s Region VI Top-15 poll, topped by Seattle Prep (No. 2), Issaquah (No. 4) and Skyline (No. 9). :
Three teams from Washington state — Seattle Prep (No. 12) and Skyline (No. 14) and Camas (No. 38) — are in the Fall FAB 50 High School Girls Soccer Rankings from Oct. 25 put out by topdrawersoccer.com :
Here are The Seattle Times 2016 rankings for Class 4A, 3A and 2A for Week 4 (Oct. 24, 2016):
1, Skyline (11-0-3)
2, Camas (14-0-1)
3, Issaquah (11-1-2)
4, Mead (Spokane) (14-1-1)
5, Kentridge (10-1-2)
6, Beamer (12-1-1)
7, Puyallup (12-0-2)
8, West Valley (Yakima) (13-2-0)
9, Lake Stevens (11-2-1)
10, Hanford (13-3-0)
On the bubble: Tahoma (11-3-0), Kamiak (10-2-2), Kennedy Catholic (6-2-6), Central Valley (Spokane) (10-3-0), Jefferson (7-5-0), Kentwood (6-4-4), Woodinville (9-4-2), Eastlake (8-5-1), Wenatchee (11-4-0), Gonzaga Prep (Spokane) (10-5-0), Auburn Riverside (9-4-1), Jackson (7-2-3), Skyview (Vancouver) (7-3-2), Olympia (8-3-3), Sumner (9-4-1), Jackson (9-2-3).
1, Seattle Prep (16-0-0)
2, Gig Harbor (14-0-0)
3, Bellevue (12-0-2)
4, Southridge (Kennewick) (14-2-0)
5, Squalicum (12-1-2)
6, Lakeside (13-2-1)
7, Marysville-Getchell (11-2-1)
8, Bonney Lake (11-1-3)
9, Arlington (12-2-1)
10, Bethel (9-1-3)
On the bubble: Stadium (10-2-2), Ferndale (11-3-1), Edmonds-Woodway (9-2-4), Bishop Blanchet (7-5-3), Kamiakin (Kennewick) (10-5-0), Stanwood (10-4-1), Roosevelt (9-6-0), Garfield (8-2-2), Holy Names (9-6-0), Lake Washington (9-4-1), Wilson (Tacoma) (9-4-2), Central Kitsap (8-3-2), Yelm (9-4-1), Kelso (8-2-4), Ballard (10-4-0), Shorecrest (9-3-3), Redmond (7-4-3), Prairie (7-3-1), West Seattle (8-5-3), Mercer Island (7-5-2).
1, Tumwater (14-1-0)
2, Fife (13-1-0)
3, Olympic (14-1-0)
4, White River (12-1-2)
5, Black Hills (13-2-0)
6, Ridgefield (13-2-1)
7, Sehome (12-3-0)
8, East Valley (Spokane) (12-3-0)
9, Selah (12-3-1)
10, Burlington (10-3-2)
On the bubble: Ellensburg (9-6-1), Othello (11-4-1), Cheney (10-46-0), Cedarcrest (8-3-3), Prosser (10-5-1), Hockinson (11-4-0), Liberty (Issaquah) (8-3-3), North Kitsap (9-4-1), Franklin Pierce (8-5-1), Columbia River (11-3-1), Ephrata (11-4-0), Lynden (9-5-1), Clarkston (10-4-1).