EVERETT — Before this season started, the Lynnwood and Everett girls soccer teams weren’t viewed by a lot of people as possible Wesco 3A championship contenders.
The Royals and Seagulls won just five games each and suffered early playoff exits last year, but they entered this season with confidence they could improve. So far, both teams’ play has justified that confidence — they’ve already matched or surpassed their win totals from a year ago.
Entering the squads’ Tuesday clash at Lincoln Field, Everett had a 7-0-0 record, while Lynnwood was 5-1-0.
“We were flying under the radar a bit (at the start of the season),” Seagulls coach Kosta Pitharoulis said after his squad tied with the Royals 2-2. “We had young players get some seasoning last year. We also have a good group of seniors that are leading the way, and the freshmen that we added to the squad rounded out the roster nicely.”
One of the reasons for Everett’s improvement is its balanced offensive attack. Entering Tuesday’s game, 11 Seagulls players had registered at least one goal or one assist — Fiona Deraitus had six goals; Gabrielle Gutierrez and Michael Curran each had five goals and four assists; and defender Sarah Landdeck had three goals and two assists.
Deraitus and Gutierrez scored goals in the first half Tuesday to give Everett (7-0-1 overall, 3-0-1 Wesco 3A) a 2-0 lead.
“Our philosophy is that we want everyone involved,” Pitharoulis said. “We’ve had a lot of different scorers, and that is by design. The girls have embraced that (philosophy), and it’s been a lot of fun because when everyone is involved, they stay engaged.”
Lynnwood’s offense has been a bit less balanced than Everett’s, but it’s been just as effective. Forward Cassidy O’Dell, a second-team all-conference pick a year ago, scored 10 of the Royals’ 17 goals in the first six games of the season.
She scored No. 11 in the 69th minute Tuesday to tie the game at 2-2. Teammate Madison Hinkel scored earlier in the second half.
“(Cassidy is succeeding) because she’s healthy,” Lynnwood coach Mark McAlexander said. “She’s broken three bones in the last three years. She’s always had the ability to be a top striker. Now she’s healthy, and nothing is holding her back.”
The Royals (5-1-1, 3-1-1) may have taken some teams by surprise earlier in the season, but that’s probably not going to be the case going forward.
“To be honest, (the lack of preseason buzz) was justified,” McAlexander said. “We didn’t want to set expectations that the girls couldn’t meet, but they felt they could go deeper in the playoffs. At the start of the season we weren’t sure just how good we were, but now the girls are playing with confidence. Our roster is almost a copy-and-paste from last year. They’ve played together so much that their chemistry is clicking.”