Sports


Defense carries East Valley soccer to Final Four

TUESDAY, MAY 24, 2011, 1:26 P.M.

East Valley High School's run to the state 2A soccer tournament this weekend has been lead by their stellar defense, who protect junior goalie Bodee Peres (center, behind). From left, sophomore Kurtis Kannenwischer; senior Tyler Tran; center midfielder senior Jon Merkel (kneeling); senior Miles Rinne; junior Austin Herron. (J. Bart Rayniak)
East Valley High School's run to the state 2A soccer tournament this weekend has been lead by their stellar defense, who protect junior goalie Bodee Peres (center, behind). From left, sophomore Kurtis Kannenwischer; senior Tyler Tran; center midfielder senior Jon Merkel (kneeling); senior Miles Rinne; junior Austin Herron. (J. Bart Rayniak)

The opponent in the

semifinals of the State 2A boys

soccer tournament remains a

bit of a mystery to Jeff Paulus.

But the familiarity – and

confidence – the third-year East

Valley coach has with, and in,

the veteran defenders on his

own team helps ease a lot of the

anxiety that stems from the

unknown.

Up next for surging EV

(17-2-1) is a 6 p.m. matchup

against Lynden (16-4-1) at

Sunset Chev Stadium in

Sumner on Friday. While

Paulus admits the only info he

has about the Lions is what he

has read in newspapers, he

expects his veteran team to be

ready for the challenge, mainly

because of a quartet of senior

defenders, who have been

playing on the varsity since they

were freshman.

“I sensed coming into the

———————- ———————-

season that we would have a

great defense, because our

starting four defenders for the

last three years have been the

same starting four defenders,”

Paulus said.

Those four are Tyler Tran,

Miles Rinne, Jacob Fitterer and

Jon Merkel, although Fitterer

and Merkel were moved to

center midfielder positions this

spring to give the Knights’

offense an added charge.

Tran was named the

defensive MVP in the Great

Northern League this year and

Rinne was a first-team all-GNL

defender. Merkel will attend

Gonzaga University on an

academic scholarship, and

Fitterer plans to play with

Rinne at Community Colleges

of Spokane next fall.

The four are part of a

six-player senior class that had

experienced nothing but

postseason disappointment,

with the Knights having lost in

the first round of the regional

playoffs the last three years.

But this spring, EV cleared

that perplexing regional hurdle

by beating GNL rival Medical

———————- ———————-

Lake 2-1 in a shootout, and then

earning a state tournament

berth with a 2-1 win over

Pullman.

Tran, Rinne, Fitterer and

Merkel, along with fellow

seniors Matt Mastronardi and

———————- ———————-

Andrew Carter, have been at

the forefront of this year’s run

to the semifinals.

“One of our biggest strengths

has been their leadership,”

Paulus said. “The seniors on

this team are the best I’ve ever

———————- ———————-

worked with, or even heard of,

on a high school soccer team.

“They are just the best

leaders – on and off the field –

that a coach could ask for.”

Behind their six seniors, the

Knights have put together one

of the best defenses in the state,

as evidenced by junior

goalkeeper Bodee Peres’

remarkable goals-against

average of 0.375.

“I’d be shocked if that wasn’t

the lowest in the state,” Paulus

said. “And to take that further, a

couple of the goals he did allow

came when we were up 8-0 and

had moved some of our

(defenders) up to forward.

“Bodee doesn’t get much

credit, because our defense is so

solid. But he’s a very, very good

goalie.”

With Peres operating behind such a veteran group of talented and savvy defenders, EV has shut out 13 opponents

and has yet to give up more

than one goal in a game.

With sophomore forward

Adam Talley, who leads the

team in scoring with 19 goals

and four assists, spearheading

the offense, the surging Knights

hope to send their senior class

out with a state title.



Click here to comment on this story »