Last season, the girls soccer flashed a few moments of greatness on their way to a 5-11 finish, including falling short of making the playoffs by one win, but in head coach Bernie Garza's opinion, last year's team couldn't quite keep the wheels from spinning when it counted most. This season, Garza said he's hoping the young, talented team should be able to put the right pieces together and fight their way to a finish closer to the top of the CWAC. "We were taking the punches and now we're bouncing off the ropes and we're going to go at them," he said. "This year, our goal is to make the playoffs. We've got to make the playoffs." Last season's victories came when the team's defense was able to limit opponents to at most three goals. In their losses, the team only managed to score six goals despite creating plenty of scoring opportunities. Garza hopes a strong defense along with solid play from their goalkeepers could go a long way to reversing the scoring deficit and prevent teams from building leads on them early. "You've got to build it from the goalie and defense," he said. "If you have a strong goalie and a strong defense, the offense doesn't have to work that hard." If the defense can dominate, Garza expects attackers to get plenty of opportunities to score on counterattacks and taking advantage of opponent mistakes. The team has been scrimmaging every day in the last half of their practices and Garza said he's encouraged by seeing plenty of close games due to determined defensive performances. In terms of offense, Garza said he's hoping to see development in the passing game. The hope is that scrimmaging will give the young team more experience playing with each other and begin to develop the timing and rhythm necessary to move the ball forward safely. "We're getting 0-0, 1-0 scores because on both sides, the defense is good and the goalkeeping is good," Garza said. "It's going to take a learning process ... to create the timing between players." The seniors led by midfielders such as Morgan Logan and Karina Silva, along with defenders Vanessa Murillo and Kaitlynn Barnett, are aware of the fact their team is young this year and Garza said they've already done a good job of helping the underclassmen come into their own leadership roles. Garza said the veterans realize they tried to run before they could walk last season and he said they've been spending plenty of time practicing the basics. "We're just doing the basics the first hour of practice: dribbling, hooking, crossing and passing," Garza said. "This year, we'll have the skill and we just need to do it." Unfortunately for the Huskies, they'll be tested early when they take on Ephrata in the Sept. 12 home opener. It won't get any easier when they take on West Valley the following Saturday. Ephrata went 8-5 last year, including a 3-0 win over Othello, while West Valley went on to place third in the state tournament. "What a way to test yourself out," Garza said. "It's non-league so we can test the water, see how well we do and then see how good we really are right off the bat." He said he's looking forward to the defense living up to their potential and shutting down these tough offensive forces and remains optimistic his team will build momentum early on. "It could be our dominant year," Garza said.