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This spring was a lost opportunity for Bay Port soccer

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Bay Port was to enter this season with three straight state tournament appearances.

SUAMICO (WLUK) -- It was all set up this spring for the Bay Port girls soccer team.

The Pirates were to enter the season with three straight Division 1 state tournament appearances, with a state title in 2018, but they never were able to enter the season as Tuesday the WIAA canceled spring sports due to COVID-19.

Bay Port, like every other spring team, was saddened by the decision although everyone seems to understand.

"I did expect it, but there was a small place that was holding out hope even for a significantly condensed season," Bay Port coach Brooke Mraz said. "My initial reaction was sadness for the girls, especially for the seniors. There's something about high school sports they'll never experience again and that makes me sad."

Bay Port arguably has been the best Division 1 team in the state over the previous three years, compiling a 69-7-1 record with one gold ball and one silver ball. It was set up for success this season with a senior group as good as any -- Emma Nagel, McKenzie Johnson, Alaina Abel and Ava Style -- each of whom will play in college.

And Nagel, the 2019 Gatorade state player of the year, who suffered a season-ending knee injury during the basketball season in December, had been cleared to play. Now, Nagel and her senior teammates will never play another high school match.

Despite the feeling the season would be canceled, Mraz said the players had been preparing for the season, just in case.

"Our seniors and our core group of athletes, the amount of time, effort and money that went into season preparation, they recognized this year could be a very special year," she said. "They poured every ounce of energy into preparing."

And Mraz will not be able to see what their work could bring.

The next time she coaches should be 2021 and it will be different. Never before has she skipped a season in this fashion and when next year comes, not having the special group of seniors who brought the program to heights never seen, will be gone.

There will be an emptiness.

"Those four seniors are impact players, leaders, had tremendous amounts of success and not just in soccer," Mraz said. "I have a real fabulous group of underclassmen. Will it seem different (next year)? Absolutely. But every year is different in high school."

And this spring has been different than any other. The weather actually cooperated for spring sports to start mostly on time. The spring was set up to be a success, but it wasn't allowed to happen. Mraz will coach again, but she never got to coach this year's team and that's difficult to accept.

"It's been hard," Mraz said. "I've been reaching out to them and telling them, 'I still miss you.' It's something that I'm passionate about and I love. I miss them like crazy. I would give anything right now to be out coaching."

Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay

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