Fall sports under way
by Jack Kintner
The Blaine girls soccer team hosted a county-wide jamboree last Saturday at which they saw some depth and talent emerge in the face of their first real competitive exposure this year.
�The way we do the jamboree is sort of a cross between a practice and a real game, because no score is kept, and the teams play for just one 20 minute period,� said head coach Dan Steelquist.
Midfielder Holly Steckler, who transferred to Blaine from Issaquah after her freshman year, was in goal for both of Blaine's games for Shela Robertson. Steckler faced down this year�s likely state triple-A championship team from Bellingham High School and stopped everything, including one diving stop that left her sprawling in the grass as the ball rolled away into the parking lot.
�It felt different,� Steckler said, �because I haven�t been in goal for a while, but we did OK against them. I felt fine back there, though if I had my choice I�d play striker.�
The physically larger Bellingham team kept most of the action in Blaine�s half of the field until the last 30 seconds or so of the shortened game, giving the Borderites 18+ minutes of pressure from what�s likely the most skilled offense they�re likely to face.
The exception came right after the opening kickoff. Freshman forward Alyssa Hendrickson was able to quickly penetrate not just the Bellingham defense, but their whole left side, most of whom were still lined up on their end of the field as if waiting for the game to develop more slowly. The small, but balanced and deceptively quick forward zipped nearly to their keeper�s penalty area but, unsupported, was marked and then overwhelmed by the larger but slower and somewhat wide-eyed Bellingham defense.
Hendrickson, who plays in the county-wide FC Ranger soccer program, said that the Bellingham girls were harder to play, as the team is bigger and has older players than she�s used to playing. �It was still fun, and this year will be, too,� she said.
breaks in new setter
�I�m really pleased with their performance tonight,� said head coach Muriel Ridnour after Tuesday night�s county-wide volleyball jamboree at Meridian High School. Each team played five 20-minute games, and all Blaine�s opponents were triple-A schools.
The final result � two ties and three losses, two of which were small margins � bore little result to what can be expected in actual match conditions, but did give Blaine�s girls a chance to measure themselves against as tough a competition as they�re likely to find.
Blaine tied Lynden 26-26, then lost to Squalicum 17-25, then tied Ferndale 26-26, and finally lost to both Bellingham, 21-24, and Sehome, 24-26.
�We weren�t sure how we were going to do,� said senior Jessica Summers, who along with Jennifer Kramer led the offense. �But now that we know we can do OK against these kinds of teams, we know we're going to be all right.�
One bright spot was the play of Jacklyn McDonald, Blaine�s libero, a position that�s geared toward players who are defensive specialists. The libero, who wears a different uniform than the rest of the team, may substitute in freely but plays only defensive positions and is not allowed to serve.
Another occurred in the third game when coach Ridnour used freshman Melissa Galbraith as a setter, freeing up Jessica Freeman to use her wide range of offensive skills.
�We have made some offensive changes from last year,� Ridnour said smiling. �And it�s good the way it�s working out.�
9/11 VOLLEYBALL vs. Friday Harbor, 3:30 p.m., high school gym; Soccer @ Meridian, 4:30 p.m.; Cross-Country Jamboree @ Lakewood, 4 p.m.
9/12 Football @ South Whidbey, 7:30 p.m.
9/13 Volleyball @ Mariner (Everett), 9 a.m.
9/16 SOCCER vs. Nooksack, 4:30 p.m. Cross Country @ Sultan, 4 p.m.
9/17 Volleyball @ Granite Falls, 7 p.m.