Everything about the Lakeside High School boys soccer team is a work in progress and for the first time in many years, the Eagles have reason to be cautiously optimistic about the season, which will begin Friday at Clarkston.
For the first time in five years, they have a returning coach in Mike Reeder, who stopped the merry-go-round after becoming the fourth coach in four years at the beginning of the 2004 season.
They won only two games a year ago, but the school record is only three, and with eight returning players who were starting at the end of last season, Reeder feels confident that the Eagles will surpass that mark handily.
“We made the playoffs last year,” he said, “and this year our goal is to not only host a playoff game but also to win one. We’re still young, but our sophomores have a year of varsity experience, and we’re coming along.
“Right now our biggest challenge is getting our best players eligible. Out of 32 in the program, we’ll only have 14 who’ve had enough practices to play on Friday.”
Reeder has six sophomore starters returning, a single junior and a number of quality seniors, including Kevin Thompson, a second-team All-Great Northern League player a year ago, his first season at Lakeside after moving from Puyallup.
Goalkeeper Chris Moore, four-year player Ian Gebalski and Jed Ryan are also seniors, and Reeder is excited about an unexpected addition, senior basketball starter Logan Erickson, one of 10 Eagles involved in that program as well.
This will be the first time Erickson has played soccer at Lakeside, although he was involved in youth programs when he was younger, and Reeder feels that even with his inexperience, he’ll make a big difference to the Eagles.
“Logan’s a fierce competitor, and he’ll bring lots of leadership to the team. He’s the kind of guy who gets everyone’s respect with that, and with his hustle. He’s got great athletic ability and is the kind of guy who flies around the basketball court and the soccer field, too.”
“I haven’t played since the sixth grade,” Erickson said, “but the guys persuaded me to play, and Mr. Reeder seemed like a nice guy.
“The most surprising thing is that the level of play is so high. It’s more competitive than I thought it would be, and I’m having lots of fun.
“It’s been hard to adjust to position play (he’s a midfielder) because it’s not go-go-go all the time like I am in basketball. But I’m learning.
“I feel like I’m getting the hang of it, and the guys have been very good about helping me out constructively.”
Thompson, Reeder said, is the most skilled player on the squad, and probably one of the top three players in the league. The challenge, the Lakeside coach said, is to integrate Thompson’s talent into a system which will promote greater team success.
“We have lots of skilled players,” Reeder said. “When you get a guy with Kevin’s talent, you really need him to be a leader and to help bring others along with him.”
Thompson agreed that that’s a priority for him.
“When I’m on the field, I need to try to bring up the other players. It’s been a hard adjustment for me, doing that, stepping up to take on a new role. Last year, I wasn’t sure I was ready for it, especially early in the season.”
Thompson’s family moved to Lakeside from Puyallup, where he attended Emerald Ridge, a Class 4A high school where he started his sophomore year.
“It wasn’t easy,” he said. “My team there was like third in our league, and soccer has struggled at Lakeside. I’ve learned a lot about myself and about my leadership skills from the move.
“My goal for this year is to contribute to building a program here, to help establish a foundation for Lakeside to build on. As an individual, my goal is to make first-team All-League and to have fun. After that, I’d like to keep playing in college.”
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