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HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS SOCCER

Heart of Selah: Moultray does it all for Vikings girls soccer

Midfielder is reigning CWAC offensive player of the year and is also a solid defender for the Vikings

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Selah's Isabelle Moultray handles the ball as La Salle High’s Emily Ponce defends during a non-league girls soccer game at Marquette Stadium in Yakima, Wash., on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018. Moultray is the reigning CWAC offensive player of the year but is also a strong defender for the Vikings.

SELAH, Wash. — The reigning CWAC offensive player of the year does so much more than just score goals for Selah.

Isabelle Moultray expects to easily top her tally of eight goals last season, and coach Todd Martin said his team’s new approach should give Moultray more opportunities. But the central midfielder also excels at creating chances to distribute the ball to her talented teammates and she’s often needed to help the defense protect leads, as it did in a 1-0 season-opening win over La Salle.

“I can play any midfield (position), attacking or defensive, so (it) depends on the game, where they need me,” Moultray said. “I like getting into the attack and scoring, but I also like when you’re on the defensive (side), you’re more distributing and making plays, so I enjoy both.”

She scored her first three goals as a junior last Saturday against Davis, leading the Vikings to a 6-1 home victory. Moultray and Martin both said she’s significantly improved her finishing skills this season, making her even more dangerous near the goal.

Martin expects many teams to follow La Salle’s game plan and mark Moultray with two or three different players, especially early in the season. But too much focus on her will inevitably lead to goals for Selah’s other strong offensive threats, such as forwards Taylor Rogers and Roni Rasmussen.

“With her moves, her speed, her strength, she creates more because they’ve got to commit more than one player to her,” Martin said. “As the season goes on the girls will get used to how we’re playing now and opening things up more, so it’ll get easier to go and then she will start to get opened up because they can’t just focus on her and leave the others.”

They’ve developed a strong chemistry, especially the juniors like Moultray who qualified for the national club tournament with the Central Washington Sounders long before they helped Selah reach the 2A semifinals as freshmen. Success at the club level helped Moultray draw attention from college coaches, and she committed last October to play for two-time Big Sky tournament champion Eastern Washington.

Before moving on to Division I level, though, Moultray’s determined to help take Selah back to the state semifinals. Losses in the CWAC semifinals and the first round of the 2A tournament last season only provided more motivation for the second team all-state midfielder.

Moultray and four others made their intentions clear to Martin during the offseason, prompting him to let players vote on captains for the first time in several years. They chose senior midfielder Daisy Kikendall and Moultray, giving her a new responsibility she doesn’t take lightly.

“I’m excited because I get to motivate the team, get people going and I have huge goals for this team,” Moultray said, noting several teammates share the same role. “We have a lot of fun, but I also want to be like, ‘hey girls, let’s go, let’s get down to business and let’s meet those goals.’”

That positive leadership represents a noticeable change from the shy freshman who still stood out enough on the field with her speed and superb ball control to earn honorable mention all-CWAC honors. Those skills complimented a willingness to listen to suggestions from coaches, and Martin said Moultray’s hard work set an example for teammates while improving her strength and quickness on the ball.

Even when excelling for Selah’s track team, she found ways to become a more effective soccer player. After placing 10th at state with a 5:14 in the 1,600 meters as a freshman, Moultray switched her focus and took fifth in the 800 and the 4x400 at the 2018 state meet.

“I got more sprint fast this year because I started doing shorter distance stuff,” Moultray said. “I have to use it because I know a lot of girls aren’t training like that and so it still hurts just as much as everyone else (at the end of the game) but I’m able to go a little bit faster.”

Track coach Kelly Mattson asked Moultray to join his cross country team in the fall, which would eagerly welcome her combination of speed and endurance.