When the Ellensburg High School girls soccer team stepped out on the field for the final time in 2018 — what ended in a 3-1 loss to Sehome High School in the 2A girls state soccer quarterfinals — the seven of those 11 girls who started said a lot about the talent and future of the team.

Seven of those Bulldogs were underclassmen — five were freshmen.

All last season, head coach Kyle Hatch preached the importance the underclassmen group was to the team’s prosperity — one that went 10-1 in the final 11 games before state and finished 14-5 overall, 8-1 in conference.

Now with a year of experience from that group, EHS carries high expectations for itself as it heads into the 2019 season.

But they’ll be without Hatch, who resigned and moved to the West Side. Ellensburg will roll with co-head coaches Jim Engeland and Armando Bravo. But assistant coach Sara June Treadwell is a familiar face to the girls. She enters her fourth season with EHS.

“It’s more of a middle-range age group,” Treadwell said, otherwise known as “Granny” to the team. “Last year, we were really bottom heavy. This year we’re kind of in the middle. But expectations are that everyone comes out with the best attitude possible, gives 110 percent, coaches one another up and that steel sharpens steel.”

EHS graduated only three seniors (Jayleen Sanchez, McKenzie Egan and Sarah Moore), so the Bulldogs return a stacked class of sophomores and juniors.

Sophomore forward Dylan Philip made a name for herself in the CWAC, earning second-team honors. She led the team with 14 goals. Other core sophomores include forward Kaelynn Smith, midfielders Melissa Sanchez and Anna Engeland (missed 2018 because of injury), and defender/midfielder Jami Nelson.

Key returning juniors are CWAC first-team midfielder Maddy Snow, defender Kami Hartrick, and forwards Blake Johnson and Caitlyn Cheney.

The aforementioned underclassmen — now a year older — have played with each other before high school, so they already meshed, making the transition easier.

“They’re really used to the ways that one another pass the ball, and they were used to feeding off of each other,” Treadwell said. “And they brought that element to the team, and some ways, some of the upperclassmen were competing for their position. So, I think that that fresh blood helped us. … They kind of reinvigorated the team.”

“A lot of us, like sophomores, some juniors, and some of the freshmen that are coming in this year, we all played together for a while before high school, which was really great,” Philip said. “So, it’s really fun to get all of us back out here playing good. I don’t know, it’s really fun to just to do the same thing we did when we were little.”

Treadwell believes EHS will sport a deeper bench this season, and there’s more flexibility with players to more than one assigned position.

“And our problem in the past, in some ways has been personal — Kyle and I talked about it a lot — we only have this person that can play this position, and I see the deepening of that,” she said. “I see it getting deeper and growing.”

The Bulldogs have a few key freshmen coming in according to Treadwell, mentioning defender Quinn Rogel and midfielder Frannie Valverde.

In the senior class, back on the field is CWAC first-team defender Allie Brown, CWAC second-team goalkeeper Cynthia Johnson, midfielder McKenzie Bandy and Melissa Lopez.

“I think they’re going to thrive their senior year and bring a lot of leadership to the team,” Treadwell said.

Does this team have the potential to go even farther at state? Brown and Philip both agreed.

“Oh, yeah, for sure,” Brown said, who’s been with the program all throughout high school. “I think it helps that our underclassmen have had a year under their belt and we’ve got a lot of talented freshmen coming in, and some age now. So, it’ll be a good year. We got a lot of drive.”

Said Philip: “I think we’ll make it. I think we can go all the way this year.”

Ellensburg opens its season at home versus Cashmere High School on Sep. 10 at 4 p.m.

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