Sitting on the bench during the district playoffs three years ago Gabrielle Wagonblast and Khadija Tarver didn’t know what was going on.
Their teammates on the Everett girls soccer team were rushing the field, jumping up and down and hugging each other. The fact that the Seagulls had just won
a district title had completely escaped the two freshmen.
“I had no idea,” Wagonblast said recently during a break from practice. “They were running around and hugging and (Khadija) and I were like, ‘Why is everybody so happy?’
“But we got T-shirts so that was awesome.”
Now the two get it. Tarver and Wagonblast have led the Seagulls to a 11-0-1 mark and have Everett atop the Wesco 3A standings and dreaming of the program’s second state championship in four years.
Everett lost only one player off of a playoff team from last year, and though Wagonblast and Tarver are two of just four seniors on a Seagulls roster that has 10 juniors and two freshmen, there is nothing but unity between the players.
“The girls play really well together and there is good continuity,” said Everett head coach Kosta Pitharoulis. “They all genuinely like each other. They pick each other up well. They’re good soccer players and getting them to play well together was the key and that’s easy when they all like each other.”
A good example of that strong senior and junior class mix is senior forward Makaela Nellams and junior forward Haley Ayers. Nellams leads the team with 15 goals and Ayers leads the team with 14 assists.
“Makaela and I work really well together,” Ayers said.
The bond many of the Seagulls players have goes back a long way. Most of the seniors and juniors played together long before making it to high school.
“A lot of us have been playing together since we were in elementary school,” said Wagonblast.
Everett hasn’t just gone undefeated but it’s done it in dominating fashion. The Seagulls have scored 50 goals as a team and given up just six, three coming in a 4-3 win over Mountlake Terrace on Oct. 8, a game not many Seagulls were happy with.
“Even when we win, but we didn’t play well we’re not happy,” said Tarver.
The Seagulls have a big week ahead. Tonight Everett hosts Shorecrest, the only team to leave a blemish on the Seagulls record. Shorecrest and Everett battled to a scoreless draw on Sept. 22. “It was a tough game and I don’t know if we would be totally disappointed if it was a tie again,” said Pitharoulis of the Shorecrest game. “Do we tie and everyone leaves healthy? That’s the key. We’ll probably have to see them at districts again.”
On Thursday Everett takes on fourth-place Glacier Peak at Lincoln Field.
Tarver, who is the Seagulls captain, credited her time as freshmen on the state championship team as a place where she learned true leadership.
“We got to take notes from the seniors and the juniors and little things like their seriousness before games and their attitude,” Tarver said. “They didn’t expect anything but the best and everyone knew that standard.”
Back in 2008, after the Seagulls had won the state championship game over Seattle Prep, a picture of Wagonblast and Tarver hugging and screaming in joy was splashed across the front of The Herald’s sports section. They’d discovered how to celebrate.
“It was hilarious here were the two freshmen and they’re on the front of the paper,” said Pitharoulis. “The seniors weren’t very happy.”