Goalkeeper Kelsee Winston and coach Kaylie Winston put the Hanford High School girls soccer team back on the map this season by winning a Class 4A bi-district championship, compiling an 18-5 record and advancing to the state semifinals for the first time since 2002.
Those accomplishments earned the Winston sisters the Tri-City Herald All-Area Girls Soccer Player and Coach of the Year honors.
For the second consecutive year, Kelsee is the first-team goalkeeper. Her 14 goals allowed and 12 shutouts in 23 games kept the possession-oriented Falcons alive long enough to claim fourth place at state.
“I think it’s pretty crazy,” Kelsee said of Hanford’s state performance. “I mean, this was the year that we said we were gonna go all the way and make it there. We maybe didn’t get the results we wanted down there, but we still can be proud because, for the first time in 14 years, we got to that level of competition.”
Kaylie also was named the All-Area coach of the year last season. She has compiled a 38-17-1 record over her three years as the Falcons’ coach. She was a fantastic player in her own right at Pasco, where she was an all-state midfielder and forward. She led the Bulldogs to three consecutive state playoff appearances before graduating in 2010.
Kaylie got her coaching start as an assistant for her dad, Rob, on some Three Rivers Soccer Club teams while she was in high school. She was on the coaching staff of Kelsee’s eighth/ninth-grade team, and it was around that time Kaylie saw her younger sister’s potential for greatness.
“It takes a while for kids to actually realize they like playing keeper, and it’s kind of always a struggle to find the keeper early on,” Kaylie said. “And I feel like for Kelsee, like right when you start playing as a keeper, she loved playing keeper. I feel like that’s something that has helped her tremendously.
“So maybe it was around when she was 13 that I realized she had the potential to be a really great keeper.”
Kelsee said having her sister as a coach was similar to playing for her dad, which forced her to be at her best in games and at practice.
“It’s kind of like, she’s my sister, so I can’t disappoint her, can’t do anything wrong during practice,” Kelsee said. “I can’t be, like, goofing off because she is my sister, and I should have that respect for her.”
Even with nine seniors graduating, Kaylie has a solid squad returning for 2017, highlighted by midfielder Dani Mendoza and defender Blake Danna, who are juniors this year. But there’s no denying the team’s style will have to change with Kelsee moving on to play college ball.
“It will change, it will make things a little more difficult and our defense is going to have to work even harder,” Kaylie said. “They were strong this year, but not having Kelsee back there next year will pose a little bit more of a challenge for them. But I’d like to see them rise to the occasion and see what they can do without Kelsee back there.”
Kelsee will play soccer next season at Eastern Washington University, where she’ll be joined by teammate Taylor Matheny and Southridge’s McKaley Goffard and Emma Schutt.
“I’m pretty excited because I’ve known (EWU coach) Chad (Bodnar) for a long time, and I know three other people that are going there with me,” Kelsee said. “It’s just going to be a whole different experience that is going to be exciting.”
Other Falcons on the All-Area first team are Danna, Mendoza, senior forward Matheny and senior midfielder Sadie Newsom.
The Southridge Suns, who were Class 3A state runners-up for the third consecutive season, are represented on the first team by four seniors: defenders Haley Thomas and Emily Russell, midfielder Savannah Brown and forward Goffard.
The Suns and Falcons split the Mid-Columbia Conference regular-season title with matching 12-2 league records. Southridge won the first installment of the head-to-head series 2-0 on Sept. 17, but Hanford all but sealed its spot as co-champion with a 1-0 win Oct. 11.
Kelsee stopped 15 shots in that game to earn the shutout. She said defeating the Suns was a key moment for the Falcons, who were in the middle of a 13-game winning streak at the time.
“To be able to beat a team of that caliber, it was pretty cool,” Kelsee said. “I play with a lot of those girls on club, so there was a little bit of extra motivation. ... It’s just like a different level of competition. You’re not playing against people that are like a different age or are from a different club, like this is your club team. These are people you’ve known for 12, 13 years.”
Kamiakin sophomore defender Rylie Clark, Chiawana junior forward Summer Yates and Prosser senior forward Jamie Fassler round out the first team.
2016 TRI-CITY HERALD ALL-AREA GIRLS SOCCER
Player of the Year: Kelsee Winston, sr., GK, Hanford. Coach: Kaylie Winston, Hanford.
Goalkeeper: Kelsee Winston, sr., Hanford.
Defenders: Haley Thomas, sr., Southridge; Blake Danna, jr., Hanford; Rylie Clark, so., Kamiakin; Emily Russell, sr., Southridge.
Midfielders: Sadie Newsom, sr., Hanford; Dani Mendoza, jr., Hanford; Savannah Brown, sr., Southridge.
Forwards: Summer Yates, jr., Chiawana; McKaley Goffard, sr., Southridge; Taylor Matheny, sr., Hanford; Jamie Fassler, sr., Prosser.
Goalkeeper: Grace Wilbur, jr., Kamiakin.
Defenders: Kendall Pope, sr., Southridge; Kylee Alvarez, fr., Chiawana; Katarina Heck, so., Richland; Emma Schutt, sr., Southridge; Eden Snider, sr., Pasco.
Midfielders: Kelly Brown, sr., Southridge; Jessica Maher, jr., Hanford; Kaeri Ward, so., Kamiakin; Abigail Escalante, jr., Walla Walla; Macey Morales, so., Chiawana.
Forwards: Ariel Loften, fr., Kiona-Benton; Nikki Velazquez, sr., Othello; Klarissa Barajas, sr., Kennewick.
Goalkeeper: Olivia Blank, sr., Kennewick.
Defenders: Fany Cossio, jr., Hanford; Ellie Harlow, so., Hanford; Jasmine McCarter, sr., Pasco.
Midfielders: Amber Gama, jr., Chiawana; Katie Sinclair, sr., Richland; Josie Corbin, jr., Richland; Morgan Nelson, so., Southridge; Aaliyah Valladares, jr., Kamiakin.
Forwards: Lorena Ramirez, so., Walla Walla; Maddie Morgan, so., Kamiakin; Jennifer Inions, sr., Prosser; Kayleen Sambrano, sr., Southridge.