KINGSBURG - Coming off back-to-back Valley championship seasons, head coach Scott Hodges said preparation and execution will determine the Kingsburg girls soccer team’s success this upcoming season.
“One of our core values is to show up and do the work,” Hodges said. “Getting all of the players on the same page of not being concerned with all the outside expectations, but if we show up everyday, do the work and we just keep sharpening up each other, keep getting better, the scores will take care of themselves as long as we’re doing everything we can to be the best we can be.”
The Vikings are coming off a season where they went 26-2-1 overall and 10-0 Central Sequoia League. The 2017-18 campaign ended with a 5-3 penalty kick loss to Westminster High in the first round of the CIF State Southern Regional playoffs. It was the second-straight year, Kingsburg lost in the first round of the Southern Regional playoffs.
For returning players Kylee Silva and Peyton Woods, that state playoff loss still stings, but they know it won’t be easy to get back into the regional playoffs and a third-straight Valley championship game.
“Coach [Hodges] always expects the most out of all of us. He expects us to always give 100 percent,” Silva said. “Throughout the community too, I always hear the question ‘Are you guys going to win again?’ It’s hard to say right now, but we’re definitely giving 100 percent right now.”
“It comes from us,” Woods said. “Coach could only do so much. He could tell us all the plays, do all the drills, but in the end it’s us.”
Hodges said that a victory in a state regional championship is “absolutely” the ultimate goal.
“When you get there, there’s eight teams left,” Hodges said. “The last two years we got knocked down in a tie game on penalty kicks. That’s a tough way to end. Our job as coaches is to put that together on the field to get them know each other, to get them to play together and that’s what we’re working on right now.”
Before that state playoff loss, Kingsburg defeated Foothill High 1-0 in the CIF Central Section Division IV championship game to claim the program’s second-straight Valley title.
Like last season, this year’s team features 21 players on the roster, but there will be 10 new faces on the soccer field. Those 10 newcomers replaced the roster spots of players that graduated.
Hodges said he had several team-bonding activities such as team dinners for the newcomers to bond with the returners and each other.
“One of the things that I’m finding out about this group unlike previous years is they don’t know each other as well off the field as previous years did,” Hodges said. “So we’re having to spend a lot more time on just getting to know each other and spending time outside of soccer. That was very evident in the first three practices. I realized very quickly ‘These girls know soccer, they work really hard, but they don’t know each other.”
Other than Silva and Woods, notable returners for Kingsburg are Marissa Montelongo, Denise Elias, and Brianna Vela.
In 2017-18, Montelongo led the Vikings with 29 goals as a sophomore, which was the second straight season she scored 20 or more times for Kingsburg. As a freshman, Montelongo led the team with 27 goals in the 2016-17 season. She was named the CSL’s 2017-18 offensive player of the year.
Elias earned CSL most valuable player honors after leading Kingsburg with 11 steals and Vela had 62 saves and 22 shutouts as the goalie as a freshman last year.
The Vikings opening season game at Lemoore on Nov. 20 was postponed due to poor air quality and a makeup date has not been announced. Kingsburg officially opened the season at home against Clovis West on Nov. 27 (after press time).
Up next for the Vikings is the Back Bay Invitational at Newport Harbor High School in Southern California on Nov. 30-Dec. 1. Three days later, the girls will be back on their home field, hosting Liberty (Madera Ranchos) on Dec. 4. CSL play for Kingsburg will begin at Immanuel High on Dec. 11.