EASTMONT — There have been two constants when Eastmont girls soccer head coach Erin Kavanaugh talks about her team this season: The squad is young and it struggles with playing timidly.
The Wildcats won their first game Tuesday against Davis, and are 1-2 in Big Nine play and 1-4 overall, which Kavanaugh doesn’t see as an indictment against her team but rather a nod to the talent it has had to face in this early stretch of the 2013 season.
“We’ve played the top teams (in Wenatchee and Moses Lake) in the league first and all of our non-league games were against schools bigger than us or teams that always go to state,” Kavanaugh said. “We’ve had no powder-puff games. I think it’s taken us a couple games longer to get going than it normally does.”
Kavanaugh attributed that to the fact that she has such a young team: The Wildcats have just five seniors on the entire varsity roster, and players from all four grades have seen time.
But the trial by fire has helped the team see who it can count on and who will step up and be the leaders in all sections of the field. Rebecca Tarbert — a multi-sport standout athlete — is continuing her strong play as a forward, while Jerusha Pech has established herself as a leader in the midfield — which Kavanaugh described as “huge” for the team’s development — and defender Erin Boatright has combined with junior goalie Savannah Jackson to anchor the team’s back half.
“I try to have a captain in each section of the field, but I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t care if you’re a captain, someone needs to be stepping up,” Kavanaugh said.
The hesitation to play with the intensity needed to win night-in and night-out has been a point of frustration for Kavanaugh as she tries to tap into her team’s fiery side.
“I tell them all the time if they gave out awards for the nicest team on earth we’d win, but they don’t hand out that award, they only give out trophies and awards for winning games,” she said.
So the Cats will have to build off of their win against Davis, and Kavanaugh’s hope is that she can shake some of that kindness out of her players and remind them that something else can be nice — the feeling after a win.
“We have great attitudes, but I’m trying to convince the girls that losing isn’t fun,” Kavanaugh said. “If we could meet those two and have fun and get the job done. That’s the ultimate goal.”
Eastmont plays against non-league opponent West Valley of Yakima today at home and continues league play on Tuesday at Sunnyside.