Archive for the ‘Girls Soccer’ Category

Nezi Keiper, Superstar. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The first time I saw Yetlanezi Keiper play a sport, she was busy making a boy seriously rethink his life choices.

Clad in a Coupeville Middle School football uniform, she had unloaded on a dude who thought he was going to block her, sending her rival sprawling to the grass.

Standing over him, long hair flowing from beneath her helmet, Nezi’s face was a study in calmness.

She wasn’t outwardly mad, but she also wasn’t going to smile at the fellow player she cut in half and left to (metaphorically) bleed out on a muddy patch of grass.

It was one of the most striking moments I have witnessed in three decades of on and off writing about prep sports.

Not because Nezi was a girl, dominating in a sport where girls are rarely made to feel welcome.

But because, in that moment, it was obvious she was a truly special athlete.

She showed no fear.

She asked for no quarter.

She was going to kick your butt on every play.

End of story.

Young Nezi, dominating the gridiron. (Sarah Saunders photo)

Now, over the last six years, as Nezi moved through middle school, then left football behind and played soccer and basketball during her high school days, I’ve seen a different side of her.

In her dealings with others, close friends or casual acquaintances, she remains one of the kindest people you will meet.

And one of the strongest.

Plus, and this is huge, she always answers my messages, sending me tidbits of info after games while bumping along the backroads of America in a school bus.

Whether her team wins big or gets roughed up on the scoreboard, Nezi is solid gold as a sideline reporter.

For someone such as myself, who can be a bit obsessive about wanting to get stories printed the same day a game is played, she has been invaluable.

Being hailed on Senior Night. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

On the field or court, she has never wavered, never made me rethink that first appraisal of her inner fire.

She is relentless as a soccer defender, taking on the best goal scorers in the region time and again, always making sure they will remember the time they unwisely chose to tangle with her.

Nezi is not a dirty player, by any means.

In fact, she goes out of her way not to hurt others and often shows concern for the physical well-being of those she clashes with.

But she is not going to back down. Like ever.

Capable of clearing the back line with a booming kick, Nezi believes every 50/50 ball belongs to her, and legs churning, she will not surrender her patch of turf, no matter how quick or large the foe may be.

If a collision is required, she never shies from contact.

But, at the same time, she’s just as likely, if not more so, to strip the ball and send it flying far away from her net before the shooter realizes they’ve lost control of the play.

“Get outta here!” (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

When she’s on the hardwood, Nezi brings the same style of play to basketball as she does to soccer.

A ferocious rebounder, when she plants herself under the hoop, good luck on moving her from her appointed position.

One of my favorite photos from Coupeville Sports is one of Nezi going toe-to-toe with a much-taller South Whidbey hoops player during her 8th grade season.

She will not be moved. You can try, but it ain’t happening, skippy.

The Wolves went undefeated that year, and Nezi was a major contributor on both ends of the floor.

Other players may have been set up to be scorers, but she showed a deft touch with the ball in her hands and could sting rival defenses.

But, as on the soccer pitch, Nezi was an absolute rock on defense and that was where she rightfully earned her fame.

Locked in from the line. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

So, here we are in early December, and she doesn’t graduate until June, and yet I’m skipping ahead of the normal schedule a bit. As you’ll see in a few moments.

Nezi chose not to play basketball this season, focusing on school, work, and life, and while her absence saddens me, it’s not about me.

If she’s happy and fulfilled, good on her. That’s what matters.

There are rumors in the air Nezi might pick up a tennis racket this spring and cap her high school days on the court or migrate to track for one go-round.

I hope it’s true, either way.

But if it’s not, Nezi deserves the peace of being allowed to make her own decision, so I’ll go be quiet in the corner after this.

As I do, however, I want to take a moment to put an official stamp on things.

Whether she still has high school sports highlights to craft or not, Nezi long ago punched her ticket to the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

She is a special athlete, and an even better human being, and putting her in our digital shrine makes the joint a lot classier.

So, let’s do this now, and not wait until summer.

After this, when you slide past the Legends tab at the top of the blog, that’s where you’ll find Nezi hanging out.

Was there ever a doubt?

No, no there was not.

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Nezi Keiper caps her prep soccer career with another honor. (Jackie Saia photo)

Four is the magic number.

Matching the Wolf boys, the Coupeville High School girls’ soccer squad saw a quartet of players honored when Northwest 2B/1B All-Conference teams were announced Monday night.

Senior defender Nezi Keiper and senior midfielder Carolyn Lhamon were named First-Team picks, while sophomore forward Ayden Wyman and senior goaltender Anna Myles received Honorable Mention status.

There is no Second-Team roster for NWL girls’ soccer, with just four teams playing versus the nine who line up on the boys’ side of things.

Mount Vernon Christian senior forward Abby Russell was tabbed as league MVP, while her mentor, Mike Russell, won Coach of the Year.

Friday Harbor was handed the Team Sportsmanship Award.

Wolf goalie Anna Myles (in neon) was honored by Northwest 2B/1B League coaches. (Morgan White photo)


First-Team All-Conference:

Alexa Brown – Freshman – Midfielder – Mount Vernon Christian
Stella Carli – Freshman – Forward – Friday Harbor
Meg Carrier – Senior – Midfielder – Friday Harbor
McKenna Clark – Junior – Forward/Midfielder – Friday Harbor
Nezi Keiper – Defender – Coupeville
Carolyn Lhamon – Senior – Midfielder – Coupeville
Bella Ross – Junior – Defender – Friday Harbor
Emily Russell – Junior – Forward – Mount Vernon Christian
Elly VandenBosch – Junior – Defender – Mount Vernon Christian
Kayla Van Hofwegen – Sophomore – Defender/Mid – Mount Vernon Christian


Honorable Mention:

Raegen Lee – Senior – Defender – La Conner
Anna Myles – Senior – Goaltender – Coupeville
Nylah Pieples – Sophomore – Defender – Friday Harbor
Grace Van Pelt – Sophomore – Goaltender – Mount Vernon Christian
Ayden Wyman – Sophomore – Forward – Coupeville

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Freshman Brynn Parker was Coupeville’s Rookie of the Year on the soccer pitch. (Bailey Thule photo)

Seniors (l to r) Nezi Keiper, Carolyn Lhamon, Anna Myles, Gwen Crowder, and Wynter Arndt exit as winners. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They shot, and scored, on awards night.

Wrapping their season, the Coupeville High School girls’ soccer squad closed Kyle Nelson’s final go-round as coach with a shindig Thursday night.

Wolf goaltender Anna Myles was honored as team MVP, while she and fellow seniors Carolyn Lhamon and Nezi Keiper received four-year awards.

Freshman Brynn Parker was tabbed as Rookie of the Year, Edie Bittner earned Most Improved, and Keiper was hailed as Most Inspirational.

Lhamon and Keiper were also acknowledged for their work as team captains.


Varsity letter winners:

Wynter Arndt
Edie Bittner
Sophia Broderick
Jackie Contreras
Gwen Crowder
Bryley Gilbert
Nezi Keiper
Carolyn Lhamon
Ava Mitten
Anna Myles
Brynn Parker
Frankie Tenore
Ayden Wyman


Participation certificates:

Isabella Gaspio
Elizabeth Lo
Monroe Myles
Skylar Parker

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“We root for everyone!” (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Girls’ soccer, you’re on the clock.

With Coupeville High School boys’ basketball and football teams having broken 34 and 32-year dry spells in 2022, the Wolf female booters now have the longest active run without an appearance at the state tournament.

Founded in 2004, CHS girls’ soccer has never qualified for the big dance, making it 18 years and counting.

Every other active sports program at the school has been to state at least once since 2010 now that boys’ basketball (1988) and football (1990) are off the schneid.

Plus, wrestling and golf, sports where Coupeville doesn’t have its own program, but solo stars have trained and travelled with other schools, fit the criteria.

Grappler Alex Turner made it to Mat Classic in 2019, while duffer Christine Fields capped a four-year run of state tourney appearances in 2015.

But what about swim, you ask?

While Turner and Fields (plus her big brother, Austin) trained and travelled with other schools, they ultimately competed in CHS colors.

Swimmers like Amanda Streubel, Lily Doyle, and Rachel and Cole Weinstein did not, as they attended Coupeville schools but fully repped Oak Harbor High School in the pool.

So, no countee … in this exercise, at least.


Most-recent state tourney appearance:

2022 — Boys Basketball, Cross Country, Football, Track and Field
2019 — Softball, Wrestling
2018 — Girls Tennis
2017 — Volleyball
2016 — Girls Basketball
2015 — Boys Tennis, Girls Golf
2014 — Baseball
2013 — Boys Golf
2010 — Boys Soccer
Never — Girls Soccer


While tennis, cross country, and track (plus wrestling and golf) often qualify individual athletes to state, basketball, softball, football, volleyball, soccer, and baseball only advance as a full team.

How those programs compare:


State tourney appearances:

Baseball — 9
Girls Basketball — 7
Boys Basketball — 6
Football — 5
Volleyball — 5
Softball — 3
Boys Soccer — 2


State tourney wins:

Girls Basketball — 7
Softball — 5
Volleyball — 4
Baseball — 2
Boys Basketball — 2


And no, I don’t think baseball’s win total is correct, no matter what the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association web site says.

The Wolves hardball squad finished 3rd at state in 1987, but the WIAA’s online records only credit CHS with one win at that year’s tourney.

Something doesn’t add up.

That being said, one other thing to notice is that, at least on the WIAA website, Wolf girls have a 16-4 advantage in state tourney wins over their male counterparts, despite Title IX not kicking in until the 1970’s.

What’s up with that, Coupeville boys of every sport?

Maybe you’re the ones on the clock, after all.

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No more endless bus rides to Forks for Kyle Nelson. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

After 15 seasons, two teams, an estimated 100+ bus rides, not to mention a few ferry trips, Kyle Nelson has reached his limit.

The Coupeville High School girls’ soccer coach is stepping down from the position, following on the heels of the recent announcement Wolf cross country guru Paige Spangler is moving to the East Coast.

Nelson is not planning to leave town, or his job as a CHS teacher, but the father of former Wolf booters Loren and William decided this was a good time to step away from his pitch duties.

After stepping in to cover for current Coupeville boys’ soccer coach Robert Wood at a three-team tiebreaker Saturday in Oak Harbor, he pondered the upcoming change.

“My wife would like to see more of me,” Nelson said. “I’ll still show up at some games and make that transition to just being a fan.

“If every game was played in 65-degree weather, and all the road trips didn’t go any further than Oak Harbor, maybe I’d hang on,” he added with a smile.

“But that’s not going to happen, so…”

Nelson, who previously coached swim in Seattle, joined the Coupeville boys soccer program as an assistant to Paul Mendes, serving two seasons in that capacity.

When the former Seattle Sounder retired, his right-hand man inherited the head coaching job, later making it a two-fer when he also took over the Wolf girls’ program.

Nelson led both programs until Coupeville moved from 1A to 2B, where boys’ and girls’ soccer play in the same season.

In all, he coached nine seasons with the CHS boys, seven as head coach, and six with the girls.

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