Local Players Proving The "East-Side" A Soccer Hotbed
Sept. 14, 2012
By Sarah Ann Jennings
SEATTLE - An outsider in Seattle might hear the term "East-Side" and assume it's a reference to the other side of the state, commonly known as Eastern Washington. But for anyone who lives around here, the "East Side" means something else--everything on the other side of Lake Washington when you cross either the 520 or I90 bridge heading away from the city.
In the soccer recruiting world, the East Side has become a breeding ground for talented players, and the women's soccer program at UW has taken advantage of it. Seven of the current players are from areas on the other side of Lake Washington--qualifying almost a third of the team as "East-Siders."
Juniors Allie Beahan and Lindsay Elston and sophomore Jaclyn Softi are all from Sammamish, Wash. while fellow juniors Lindsey Bos and Stine Schoening are from Snohomish, Wash., and Woodinville, Wash. respectively. Recent Cal transfer Kate Bennett and freshman Isabel Farrel are both natives of Bellevue, Wash.
What makes this group unique is that many of them have been playing together for years, some starting on recreational teams where their soccer careers first began, and others on club teams, high school teams, or all of the above.
"I played rec. soccer with Allie, club soccer with Allie, Lindsey, Annie, Stine, Molly and Kate and then high school with Jaclyn and Allie," says junior midfielder Lindsay Elston. "Safe to say I've been playing with a majority of our team for most of my soccer career."
This group has made its presence known during their time here at UW, with many of them being starters or seeing significant playing time over their careers. The juniors--not including transfers Bennett and Schoening --have an Elite 8 experience under their belt from their freshmen year and are now seasoned veterans on the team. Touted freshman Isabel Farrel was the only freshman on the team to start in the season opener against Seattle University and has made an immediate impact through the first half of the season.
Playing a large role in the talent and strength of women's soccer on the East-Side is the club team Crossfire, a soccer organization based out of Redmond, Wash. Seven out of the eight juniors on the team played for Crossfire, including Molly Boyd (Seattle, Wash.) and Annie Sittauer (Everett, Wash.) who made the commute to the East to have the opportunity to play for the local elite club team.
These players believe that the growth of the popularity of soccer in Seattle has been a major contributor to the strength of Cossfire and the talent that is produced in that area.
"There is a lot of love for the game here in Seattle so I think players starting at a young age produces a lot of talented players," says Schoening--a local who originally attended UNC Greensboro but transferred to UW to be closer to her family and have a chance to play with many of the girls she grew up playing alongside.
Schoening also credits the coaches in the area for developing talented players. "We have great coaches in the state who help mold these young kids into great players," she says.
Head coach Lesle Gallimore just began her 19th year at the helm of the program and in her time here has always made it a priority to keep the best local players "home" in Seattle.
This group, particularly the current juniors, brings a special chemistry that creates a unique situation for Gallimore's current squad. When Gallimore was recruiting them, she was quick to piggyback off of their shared soccer history, while still emphasizing that they would be viewed as individuals and they would develop each of them separately.
"The idea we wanted to sell to them and have them buy into when they chose Washington was that their chemistry would benefit us greatly," say Gallimore. "But that being at Washington wasn't going to be the same as playing for Crossfire. They would all have a fresh start, they would be looked at individually for their strengths and for their areas of development, and they would all be given a chance to perform."
Highlighting the benefits of the group's special connection while still allowing the girls to be individuals is proving to be successful for Gallimore, whose team has begun the year 7-0-1, led by this experienced group.
"It's great because in year three for the bulk of this group, and year two for Jaclyn, it's clear that they are now WASHINGTON HUSKIES, but still carry that teammate bond that has been with them since some of them were nine or 10 years old," adds Gallimore. "It's a terrific element for our team."
Additionally, Gallimore sites the transfers of East-Siders and former Crossfire players Kate Bennett and Stine Schoening as a further demonstration of the special chemistry and bond that this group shares.
"We have been close friends for a while and it is fun sharing this experience with them."
As popularity of the sport continues to grow in Seattle, the pool of players available for Gallimore to recruit will grow as well. Having such strong local players from the East Side is a significant recruiting tool for Gallimore as she plans on carrying on the tradition of getting local players to stay close to home and play at UW.
"They are a talented group that has really helped us in recruiting other Washington players."
This was evident when the Huskies landed Bellevue freshman Isabel Farell, ranked as the sixth best player overall in the country. Farell also played for the Crossfire soccer club team, just a couple years behind the current juniors. She originally wanted to venture out to somewhere outside of Seattle to play her college ball, but that all changed when she came to UW and saw the camaraderie among not only the older Crossfire players, but the whole team.
"When I visited the school for the first time, it felt like home to me," says Farell. "The coaching staff and team were so welcoming, and there was such a positive energy which I loved."
"UW is a perfect fit."
Ultimately, the Huskies are counting on these local "East-Siders" to help the team continue the momentum they have built after an impressive start to the season.