April 13, 2011 in Sports

Area prep soccer improving

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Sean Bushey is convinced high school soccer, at the local level, is as good as it has ever been – and that it will most likely get even better.

To validate that assessment, he points to the unprecedented success of last year’s Spokane Shadow U18 Navy team, comprised almost exclusively of players from Spokane-area high schools, that won the 2010 Washington Youth Soccer Premier League Division I championship with an 8-2-2 record.

“That just doesn’t happen every year,” said Bushey, the men’s soccer coach at Whitworth University, who also serves as technical director for the Shadow.

In fact, Bushey could not recall another Shadow team that had accomplished such a feat. And he also noted that last year’s U18 Navy team also became the first to win the prestigious San Diego Surf Cup.

“That’s never happened to a Spokane team in that age group at the Super Level,” he said. “So, those kids ended their club careers with a couple of great achievements.”

Fifteen members of that Shadow team, which was coached by Matt Leonard, are competing once again on Greater Spokane League high school teams this fall.

Spencer Button, Jordan Etten, Curtis and Travis Hill and Colin Shockman play for Mead; Brandon Barber, Matt Bray, Sam Butler and Matt LaPlante play for Ferris; Zach Allert, CB Aunan and Matt Harper play for University; Jamal Angell and Christian Foster play for Lewis and Clark, and Devin Allen plays for Central Valley.

“Each year, the quality of high school soccer in Spokane continues to improve,” Bushey said, “and we saw some of the fruits of that with last year’s team. Certainly, at the high school level, you have different ages playing together, which helps perpetuate that.

“There also continues to be more high school coaches who are soccer coaches first, which helps grow the game. And then there are just more young kids in the community who are playing, which is neat to see.”

Unlike some elite U18 teams, the Shadow have no members who play exclusively on club teams, which Bushey sees as another benefit.

“All of our players play both,” he said. “That’s just the culture around here, and I like it. There are some neat things – like the pure recognition of playing for your school – that come out of high school sports that are pretty cool.

“So I know our players definitely enjoy playing at the high school level, too.”

Big win for Cardinals

Just a week after suffering a disappointing 2-1 loss to Great Northern League rival Pullman, Medical Lake kept its title hopes alive last Saturday– and further scrambled the GNL standings, as well – by handing previously unbeaten East Valley a 1-0 setback in double overtime.

The Cardinals (7-4 overall, 5-3 in the GNL) won it on a goal by senior midfielder Marco Wintermeyer, after goalkeeper Ian Graves had registered nine saves.

“It was a great win for us,” Medical Lake coach Zane Higgins said. “I think it kind of picked us up and gave us quite a bit of enthusiasm to kind of believe we can win some of these tougher games, which we had yet to do.

“We had come close a couple of times, but we hadn’t pulled out a key win against one of those top teams.”

East Valley (7-1, 6-1), which was tied for first place with Cheney (7-3, 6-1) heading into Tuesday night’s GNL road game against Pullman, had a great chance to put Medical Lake down with a one-on-one breakaway midway through the second half, but Graves came out of goal, got a hand on the shot and slowed the ball just enough for defender Garrett Lawson to get back and clear it.

Throw-ins

After most of its teams were idle because of spring break last week, the Greater Spokane League will feature a full schedule of games today. The best of the lot could be the 4 p.m. showdown between league-leading Ferris (7-1, 4-0) and Lewis and Clark (3-5, 1-2) at Hart Field. Ferris, which edged LC 1-0 in a nonleague game to open the season, has won its last four league games by a combined score of 12-0.


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