Piedmont High School’s girls soccer team is back on the pitch after winning the North Coast Section Division 4 soccer championship last year. The title was the second in school history.
The Highlanders lost a good chunk of their offense from last year’s team. But they do return five starters from the defensive side of the field.
“The reality is we need a few more goals this year just because our goalkeepers aren’t that experienced,” Piedmont coach Dan Chubbock said. “We’ve taken out probably 90 percent of our goals, we’ve taken out our goalkeeper. Are we going to be as good as last year, probably not, but I think we’re still going to play a similar style.
The strength with the returning players is with the defense. The back line has senior Amy Derr, junior Eliza Hammond, senior Elle Ruegg, and senior Hailey Marshburn returning. Junior captain Louisa Symkowick is also back at center midfield.
“That back four and Louisa, those five players are the same five starters as last year,” Chubbock said. “You could look at it as it’s just half the team but I look at it as it’s great we have half the team. We have turnover but its never a full 11. We don’t tend to lose the whole squad.”
The Highlanders have played two games so far, beating Skyline 6-1 and Tennyson 5-0. The new players up front have been showing signs of being a potent offense.
Junior Hannah Sullivan has five goals in the first two games. Sophomore Elia Kwong and junior Juliana Thornborrow have also been good on the attack. They’ll be fortified when returning sophomore Miranda Liu completes her club obligations and joins the squad during the season.
Goalkeeping was not a worry the last few years as Morgan Hunt anchored the net. Now graduated, she’ll be replaced with a pair of good athletes, at least until the coaching staff can pick a starter. Junior Friedie Schickedanz is out for soccer for the first time in high school, after playing when she was younger. At Piedmont, she has played water polo, lacrosse and in the fall was a quarterback for the school’s new flag football team.
“She hasn’t played soccer in a number of years,” Chubbock said. “She heard there was a goalkeeper spot available. She did a workout with some of her friends. And she reached out to me before tryouts and said look I have no expectations.”
“For someone that has not played much, she’s pretty comfortable.”
Senior Clio Salzer is injured at the moment, but will battle Schickedanz for the starter’s job. Chubbock said he will rotate the keepers, probably by halves in games.
Two freshmen are joining the varsity squad and should make immediate contributions. Chloe Toyama is a defender and Elsa Wallway is a forward. The latter is also still playing club ball.
Chubbock said the offense isn’t at full form yet but is on the way.
“I think the pressure’s off of us because we did lose the attacking players we did,” he said. “That’s definitely where we’re going to have to spend the work.”
Chubbock said he expects Berkeley and Bishop O’Dowd to continue to be strong with Castro Valley and Alameda next in the West Alameda County Conference. One extra hurdle this year will be the ongoing construction at Witter Field, which now appears will last into the spring. Piedmont is practicing at Laney College and will play home games at Estuary Field in Alameda and Chabot College in Hayward. Chubbock is also the women’s coach at Chabot.