Daily Journal Sports File
Woodside junior Lauren Holland had a team-leading 45 points last season (11 goals, 23 assists) as she earned PAL Offensive Player of the year honors. She is one of 14 players returning from last season’s unbeaten PAL and CCS championship team.
The Woodside girls’ soccer team has picked up where it left off last season.
The Wildcats have started the 2013-14 campaign with a 4-0-1 record, having outscored its opponents 15-1. After a 19-0-4 record, a Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division title and a Central Coast Section co-championship last season, the Wildcats are riding a 28-game unbeaten streak and are the team to beat heading into the PAL Division schedule which begins Jan. 7.
All that means nothing, however, as far as Woodside coach Jose Navarrete is concerned.
“Right now, I’m kind of concerned with the way we’ve played. I’m concerned about the consistency of this team. We’ve had to use way too many players at different positions,” Navarrete said. I think we lost that ‘We want to achieve (attitude)’ we had last year. I have yet to see that. I’ve yet to see the hunger.”
A year after being one of the youngest teams in the league with just three seniors, the Wildcats continue to be young and talented again this season. They have just five seniors on this year’s squad and 12 of the 21 players on the team are underclassmen — four freshmen and eight sophomores.
“We’re still pretty young,” Navarrete said. “But it’s nice to have a little more experience.”
Navarrete said his biggest issues are in the midfield, where the Wildcats will be without Lindsay Ringman (outside midfield) and Alexa Silvestri (holding defensive mid), who both suffered knee injuries during the club season. He is also waiting for Erika Negrete (seven goals, seven assists last season) to round into form.
“We’re having trouble filling those voids,” Navarrete said. “And (Negrete) is still not healthy.”
While Navarrete downplays his team, the rest of the PAL’s Bay Division is probably not buying it. Despite the problems Navarrete sees, the rest of the league sees this: the Wildcats return 14 players from last year’s CCS championship squad, including reigning Offensive and Defensive players of the year in Lauren Holland and Gianna Rosati, respectively.
Rosati is also the reigning Daily Journal’s Female Soccer Player of the Year.
Along with Holland and Rosati, the Wildcats also return Jillienne Aguilera, now a sophomore who scored a team-leading 15 goals as a freshman. Combined, those three combined for 40 goals and 28 assists last season.
“We have a lot of people back who scored a lot of goals for us (last year),” Navarrete said. “And getting goals in the PAL is always a plus.”
Defensively, the Wildcats appear to have the pieces in place to limit any offense in the PAL. They have three returners starters on defense, anchored by sweeper Rosati, and have a nice problem in goal. Despite having last year’s starter, Sabrina Proctor, returning, Navarrete has been pleased with the play of freshman Sarah Preston, who has been splitting time with Proctor during the preseason.
“[Preston has] been amazing for us,” Navarrete said. “She’s the most surprising thing that has landed in our program this year.”
Navarrete will need his team to gel if it wants to repeat as Bay Division champion. He is not overlooking anybody heading into PAL play. Carlmont is still one of the elite teams in the league and Burlingame is expected to rebound after a injury-plagued 2012-13 campaign. Menlo-Atherton is expected to make some noise in the Bay this season as well. Hillsdale has shown a lot of improvement already this season and teams can’t sleep on Aragon, San Mateo or Sequoia either.
Simply put, the Bay Division is strong from top to bottom.
“I think [the Bay] is very good. … I think it’s a very strong league this year,” Navarrete said. “If you can pick out an easy (Bay Division game) on our schedule, you’re nuts. … If you just worry about [the top teams], someone will blindside you. There is a big game every Tuesday and Thursday.
“Obviously, we want to win the [Bay Division] again. The best thing about our program, we just look at it one game at a time because we really respect all our opponents.”