NORTH BEND — Nobody could blame the Bay Area’s high school soccer players if they were exceptionally disappointed to not get their regular fall season this year.
Instead, they are looking at things as a positive since Marshfield and North Bend set up a series of matches against each other in November and December, with the regular “fall” season still scheduled for early next year by the Oregon School Activities Association — following whatever winter sports are allowable under health guidelines at the start of the calendar year.
“I’m really excited we get to have two seasons,” said North Bend’s Katie Carver. “It’s really going to get us in shape for the real one.”
North Bend and Marshfield started the fall season with a jamboree that also included Brookings-Harbor and since have played a pair of matches against each other. They plan a few more before the end of their special season.
The Bulldogs have seen improvement as they build for the regular season.
“I definitely think our passing is getting a lot better,” Molly Picatti said.
The team also is spreading the field better and growing as a group trying to build chemistry in a group that includes a strong senior core and several freshmen.
“It’s building up the team,” Picatti said.
“We’ve got a lot of newbies,” added Bella Jones.
Basically, the Bulldogs are making the most of an opportunity that for much of the summer didn’t look like a possibility at all.
“We’ll take anything at this point (with) all the stuff with COVID,” Brooklyn Garrigus said, adding that the experience is as important for mental health as it is for athletic skill, since classes are all still distance learning and there otherwise would be little social time. “Talking with each other — it helps a lot.”
That was clear right from the first team gathering, Picatti said.
“That first day of practice, everyone was talking and laughing,” she said. “It was like we were in kindergarten again.”
Aside from the early jamboree with Brookings-Harbor, it’s just been the Pirates and Bulldogs, but the North Bend players are OK with that, especially given how much Marshfield has improved. The Pirates are a ton better than the group that the Bulldogs dominated in recent years.
“Marshfield has gotten a lot better,” Carver said. “We’re getting better along with them.”
In this week’s match, the Pirates even had a goal after the Bulldogs had taken a 3-0 lead in the second half. Isabell Perez scored on an assist by Dahlia Kanui.
The Bulldogs ended up winning 4-1, with goals by Picatti, Carver, Garrigus and Rachel Snyder.