Panthers off to running start

Washougal girls soccer wins 6 straight, eyes state tournament berth

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Washougal High School senior Payton Lindell looks to set up a teammate during the Panthers' 6-0 win over R.A. Long at Fishback Stadium in Washougal on Sept. 17. (Wayne Havrelly/Post-Record)

The Washougal High School (WHS) girls soccer team launched into its 2019 season with six consecutive wins.

On Sept. 17, the Panthers dominated R.A. Long High School with a 6-0 victory in front of a big crowd at Fishback Stadium.

WHS’ hot start is no surprise to second-year head coach Shane Jundt.

“Last season we started strong, but didn’t have the continuity as a group,” he said. “But this year that’s all changed.”

The Panthers are young, but have a good amount of soccer experience because many players are or have been involved with the Washington Timbers Football Club. Jundt coached Timbers club teams for many years before adding high school coaching to his resume.

WHS freshmen starters Olivia Buck, Ella Morris and Jaden Leonard have played soccer for most of their lives, and the chemistry they have developed through years of hard work shows on the field, according to Jundt.

“We have three starting freshmen on the team and they fit in really well,” he said. “Our flow is just incredible. I can move girls around and we don’t lose our flow.”

‘Soccer is life’ for co-captain Lindell

Junior Lauren Snedeker and senior Payton Lindell will lead the Panthers as captains this season. Both of them said they are impressed with how the team’s young players are stepping up.

“You can’t tell if it’s a freshman or a senior,” Snedeker said. “We are all just the same and look at each other and respect each other the same and hold each other to the same standards.”

Snedeker said that the team feels like a unit and that players are not focusing on individual needs, a problem in the past.

Lindell has played organized soccer since she was 5 and likes to say that “soccer is life.”

“I recently committed to play for Concordia University next year, so I guess it really will be my life soon,” the energetic Lindell said.

The senior captain said this season has kicked off really fast, and the success comes from team members being more connected, which has led to sharper passing on the field.

In the Panthers’ win over the Lumberjacks, they controlled the ball for nearly the entire game, with Snedeker repeatedly passing the ball from the corner of the field to feed players in scoring positions.

Controlling possession of the ball will be a major focus for the team this season, according to Jundt. Controlling the ball leads to offense, and the Panthers plan to be much more offensively minded than in past seasons.

Lindell is honored to be playing for WHS and said the players are dedicated to making the Panthers one of the elite teams in the state.

“I think we have an underdog spirit that’s rising in Washougal,” Lindell said. “Go Gorge cats.”

Jundt agreed with his captain, and said his players have great attitudes and the desire to go as far as they can this season.

“I think this year we have a good shot of pushing through (to state),” Jundt said with a smile.