The outlook this year for boys soccer? Bright, and that has nothing to do with how the teams are picked to finish.
A year ago, most teams were huddled inside their gyms, waiting for fields to dry.
“This year we can actually go outside,” Mead coach Kevin Houston said on a sunny Monday afternoon. “Last year it took awhile to get our game going, so we’re just that much further ahead.”
So, presumably, is everyone else in the Greater Spokane League, which kicks off Wednesday.
Last year, Ferris finished second in the regular season despite fielding one of the youngest teams in the league. Veteran coach Robin Crain, who’s won five previous league titles, returns nine starters, including all-GSL forward Clayton Paull and second-team defender Logan Parr. “We’re young, but have lots of experience,” Crain said.
Lewis and Clark reached the regionals in Mica Lamb’s first year as coach, but must replace three first-team all-GSL players, including goalkeeper Cody Lang, who’s now at Seattle Pacific. Trevor Bigelow and Jacob Williams are vying to replace Lang. “We’re as deep as we’ve been in awhile,” Lamb said – which is a good thing, as the Tigers return only five starters. A key returnee is junior midfielder Ben Thompson, a second-team all-GSL pick last year.
Last year, a senior-dominated Central Valley team carried its late-season momentum all the way the state semifinals. Only four starters return, but one of them is second-team all GSL defender Chase Marshall. Coach Andres Monrroy expects much from last year’s veterans: Marshall, goalkeeper Aidan Dowling and midfielders Alec Bumgarner, Cobi Guerrinha, Reid Eliason and George Herner. “I expect my seniors to step up and be the kind of leaders the seniors from last year were,” Monrroy said.
Mt. Spokane was a pleasant surprise last year, tying for second in the GSL and reaching the quarterfinals of the 3A tournament. The junior-dominated Wildcats may be even better this year, returning six starters. Among them is Robert Powles in goal for the third straight year, and defender Ross Mader, a four-year fixture in the back. “We’re a relatively young team but a lot of our players have two or three years of varsity experience,” coach Ryan Campanella said.
Gonzaga Prep went 6-7 and narrowly missed the 4A playoffs last season, but coach Matt Kinder returns six starters. “We have good team chemistry and strong leadership,” Kinder said.
At University, first-year coach Scott Kerwien returns four starters off last year’s 8-4 team that was eliminated at district.
Shadle Park returns nine starters from a 6-9 team that reached district last year. Head coach Donavon Hodgson hopes the Highlanders “will surprise the league with our quality of play.”
East Valley is ready to realize its potential after an injury-plagued 2012 season. “We still managed to finish second,” noted coach Jeff Paulus, whose Knights were eliminated at district after finishing in the state semifinals the previous year. EV returns the top goal-scorer in the region in Adam Talley, who put 25 balls in the net last year. “I know what Adam is capable of doing every time he steps on the field,” Paulus said. EV gets a boost from senior midfielder Kurtis Kannenwischer and Norwegian transfer student Hartvig Bondo.
After one of the best seasons in school history – a 20-2 record and a runner-up finish at state – Cheney isn’t done. Coach Mark Kiver returns seven starters, including standout keeper Joe Scott. The big losses are up front with the departure of some big-time scorers and top defenders, but Kiver says “we have the potential for a strong team.” Junior midfielder Micah Weller was an all-GNL second-teamer last year.
Pullman returns just three starters from a state playoff team, but coach Doug Winchell says that Greyhounds “will improve drastically” as they gain experience. Senior forward Matt Konkel was a second-team all-GNL performer last year.
At Clarkston, the Bantams return three starters off a team that finished sixth last year. Second-team GNL picks Aaron Guz and Cameron Flynn are among the returnees.
|GSL Predicted finish||4. Central Valley||8. Shadle Park|
|1. Mead||5. Mt. Spokane||9. North Central|
|2. Ferris||6. Gonzaga Prep||10. Rogers|
|3. Lewis and Clark||7. University|
|GNL Predicted finish||3. Pullman||6. Colville|
|1. East Valley||4. West Valley||7. Deer Park|
|2. Cheney||5. Clarkston|