OC women rallying around new coach

Then-Bremerton midfielder Naomi Abad tries to avoid a slide tackle by then-Olympic High forward Kayleigh (Badger) Carlson. The two are now teammates at OC. - Jesse Beals/file photo 2007
Then-Bremerton midfielder Naomi Abad tries to avoid a slide tackle by then-Olympic High forward Kayleigh (Badger) Carlson. The two are now teammates at OC.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/file photo 2007

Local talent fueling Rangers’ rise.

Dick Lowry couldn’t be a happier coach.

“I’m ecstatic,” Lowry said of his first season at the lead of the Olympic College women’s soccer program. “This is a good group we have here.”

The reason for excitement is easy to see: After winning just a single game a year ago, the Rangers are already 2-3-0, scoring 10 goals to just seven allowed.

“I’m looking forward to a winning season,” Lowry said. “This team of girls is capable of doing it.”

Lowry, father of OC men’s soccer coach Kris Lowry, said he thinks his team can get back to the postseason despite the fact they have just one sophomore in South Kitsap alum Cassie Brown, one of nine SK grads on the squad.

“She’s stepping up and being a leader,” he said.

The 2008 Lady Rangers soccer team looks like a 2007 high school all-star team.

Olympic’s Jadie “Pepper” Fanua is in goal. Bremerton’s Naomi Abad is a key contributor, as is Olympic grad Kayleigh (Badger) Carlson.

Central Kitsap alum Brittany Nelson was recently added to the roster. The team also includes SK grads Alegra Waldon, Chalene Johnson, Hannah Angel, Ashly Kirner, Amanda Williams, Maria Jose, Ashley Benjamin and Michele Fisher, as well as Bremerton’s Michelle Dubrall and North Kitsap’s Aisha Shurick. In fact, only Port Townsend’s Quinn Grewell and Sequim’s Brittnay Gates are the only non-Kitsap grads on the roster.

So while OC’s results may be surprising to some, Dick Lowry said he’s getting exactly what he expected.

“I knew what I was getting,” he said. “I wasn’t surprised.”

Even OC’s losses have been close.

“There isn’t one team we’ve played so far we couldn’t beat in a rematch,” he said.

That includes a 1-0 loss to defending Northwest Athletic Association of Community College West Region champs Highline.

“We had our opportunities,” he said. “But stretches came into play where we weren’t ready.”

That mental maturity is the main thing he wants his team to improve so far.

“There’s a big portion of this team right now where the maturity is developing,” Lowry said. “Right now, they’re not quite where I want them to be.”

The team also has a new assitant coach this year in Ryan Moss, who adds an element of youth to the coaching staff the 60-year-old Lowry simply can’t anymore, he said.

“Ryan, he’s got a lot more energy than I do at this stage of the game,” he said of Moss, a Port Townsend grad. “He’s a great trainer. He’s helped out a lot.”

Fanua has been off to a great start, recording two shutouts already in her college career.

“She’s an incredible leader,” Lowry said. “She helps out constantly. And she’s definitely harder on herself.”

And while Gates may be just one of two from outside the county, she’s made her presence known, scoring six goals (second in the NWAACC) in just five games.

“That’s a definite plus,” Lowry said. “She’s a key ingredient on this team.”

But the biggest ingredient has been the team’s unselfish play, as team chemistry is forming faster and faster each day, he said.

“Soccer is a different animal when it comes to players coming together,” Lowry said. “If you can’t get along on the pitch — or off of it — then you can’t expect (to play well).”

With his son Kris heading the men’s program, that too has added a fun dimension to coaching at OC.

“My son and I get along very well,” he said.

“I see way too much of him now,” Kris Lowry joked. “No, it’s great. He gave me the passion I have for the game. I owe a lot to him. It’s great.”

But on the pitch, Dick Lowry’s only focused on his own team.

“I’m absolutely in love with my team,” the elder Lowry said. “I absolutely adore ’em. They have everything I look for in a team.”

Which has OC looking back at the postseason.

“If we go on a roll, we have every right to be up there,” he said. “We could be right back in the hunt.

“This year you can feel it,” Lowry continued. “It’s something you can almost taste.”

OC hosts Everett at noon today at Memorial Stadium.

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