By Ray Hamill — The Fortuna Huskies welcome back a familiar face to the sidelines this fall, as they get set to kick off the high school girls soccer season on Thursday.
Long-time H-DNL head coach Kathleen Lynch returns to coach a program she oversaw for seven seasons before stepping away two years ago.
But with Kevin O’Neil stepping down after last season’s second-place finish in league play, Lynch is back in charge for her second stint with the Huskies and her 22nd season coaching in the league.
“I’m excited to be back,” she said, ahead of Thursday’s season opener at Middletown.
Lynch has reason to be excited, with some key returning talent on the roster, and what she hopes will be plenty of depth.
“I’m hoping to have a fluid and competitive starting lineup, where the girls are looking to keep their starting spot every game,” she said. “To keep them primed.”
Going into the Middletown game, there are starting spots up for grabs at several positions, something the Huskies could see all season long.
The coach, however, will rely on a core group of returning players to lead the way and set the tone, including seniors Gisselle Cruz and Darly Diaz, and junior Sarah Hohman.
Hohman looks likely to anchor the Huskies’ defense alongside Cruz, and has been a vocal leader in the preseason, while Diaz will start in center midfield.
“We have a lot of potential,” Lynch said. “We’re definitely doing some rebuilding on the back line, so we’ve been focusing on getting some work done back there.”
Sarah Killfoil and Kallia Yang will both see plenty of time in attack for the Fortuna girls, who kick off league play at Del Norte on September and have four games lined up before that.
And the new head coach likes what she’s seen from her players in terms of their attitude so far.
“I just like the camaraderie they’re developing right now,” she said. “For several years it was something we always talked about trying to be a family, and some of the girls have made it our team mantra.
“It’s what we want to represent on and off the field.”
Three of Lynch’s former players will return to help with the coaching this season, Diana Meraz, Samantha Gonzalez and Amada Lang.