White River’s junior varsity squad hosted Fife Thursday night, Sept. 21. Above, the Hornets’ Allison Koch moves past a defender. Photo by Kevin Hanson

Strong start for White River soccer

Things were a bit tougher Thursday night, but the outcome was the same – another victory for the White River High girls soccer program.

The Hornets – under the direction of first-year coach Joe Birklid – used goals by Emma Robbins, Annabelle Hall and Hanna Saylor to slip past visiting Fife High 3-1. The win pushed the Hornets’ record to 5-0 in South Puget Sound League 2A play and 6-0 overall.

The victory was significant because it came against a formidable foe. The Trojans made the trip to Buckley with an undefeated record. White River’s earlier league wins had come against teams that couldn’t mount much of a challenge.

White River has romped through much of the early part of the season, outscoring opponents 35-4 during the opening six contests. Included were landslide league wins like 9-0 victories over both Foster and Washington, along with a 7-0 defeat of Franklin Pierce.

Birklid, who for the past three years was a full-time coach on the staff of Washington Premier, credits much of his team’s success to experience. The Hornets have 11 seniors on the varsity team and six juniors. The rest are sophomores, except for Saylor, the only freshman to crack the varsity roster.

The fact that the Hornets had allowed only four goals in six games is credited to a transition defense that’s always pressing to regain possession of the ball. And there’s plenty of experience in the net, with senior goalkeepers Ally Glebe and Autumn Nation sharing time.

Success is nothing new to the White River squad. The team finished last season with a final record of 16-2-2. That included a South Puget Sound League mark of 12-1-1 and an appearance in the 16-team Class 2A state tournament.

The Hornets returned to the pitch Tuesday, traveling to Tacoma to face the lowly Foss Falcons. Thursday will find White River on the road again, traveling to Highline Stadium in Burien to square off against Evergreen High; the Wolverines should present a tougher test, having lost only once through games of last week.