The Union girls soccer team is hungry.
To whet their appetite for what they hope is a return to the Class 4A state playoffs, the Titans are playing several tough teams early this season.
Thursday, Union downed Gig Harbor 4-1, beating a team that reached the 3A playoffs last season.
The win at McKenzie Stadium comes five days after the Titans opened their season by beating Columbia River, the reigning 2A state champion.
“We’re playing a lot of tough teams this preseason because we’re ready,” senior defender Chloe Brusseau said. “We need to beat any team. We want to go all the way.”
Few players are hungrier than MaKayla Woods. The senior, who has committed to play at the University of Washington, missed most of last season with a knee injury.
Thursday, she scored two goals and assisted on another. Woods, who returned to action at the end of last season, relishes being healthy for the start of this year.
“It’s one thing to watch and support your team, I like that,” Woods said. “But just playing out there and being able to be a voice, lead by my actions and be a captain is just awesome.”
With all but three players back from a team that reached the state’s final 16, Union believes this could be a special season.
I think we’re really hungry,” Woods said. “I think we’re doing a really good job this year of being a team. Before were kind of a bunch of individuals. Now we’re coming together, working hard and doing what we need to do to have the same mindset and really attack the season.”
Seven minutes before halftime, Woods attacked the Gig Harbor goal and set up Union’s first goal. Woods collided with the Tides’ goalkeeper the ball as both pursued a loose ball, which fell to Maddie Goss. The junior scored from 10 yards away.
Woods scored Union’s second goal just before halftime. Camilla Moroney’s pass let Woods’ get by Gig Harbor’s oncoming goalkeeper, setting up a wide-open shot.
Gig Harbor pulled within 2-1 early in the second half, but Woods scored her second goal just five minutes later.
Alexis Raymore scored Union’s fourth goal with 19 minutes to play, putting the cap on a convincing Titans victory. It was a bit of revenge for Union, which lost to Gig Harbor 1-0 last season.
“Last year we had a really tough time with this team,” Brusseau said. “We were hungry and kind of had a chip on our shoulder.”
The season is early, but Union is showing it has plenty of potential.
Will the Titans maximize this season’s promise? Coach Kelcey Burris said his players control their own destiny.
“They’re growing as a group,” Burris said. “As they learn to play together, only time will tell where this group takes themselves.”
UNION 4, GIG HARBOR 1
Goals (assists) — Maddie Goss (Makayla Woods), Woods (Camila Moroney), Woods (Isabelle Morales), Alexis Raymore (Kiani Pandoliano); Goalkeeper saves — Lizzie Anderson 4.
Halftime — 2-0.