The lack of a 2020 boys soccer season is being used as a battle cry for Lewis and Clark.
As things began to shut down over the course of last spring, seniors realized their high school careers would end abruptly.
Now, the current seniors have been urging and pushing their teammates to play for themselves and appreciate the moment.
“I just keep urging the boys to put it all out there,” LC senior center back Thomas Vlasak said.
“I’m going to put it all out there. I’m going to put every (ounce) of effort into this year, especially since we didn’t get a season last year. I keep telling them to push, the games are going to get harder. I just keep encouraging the boys to fight.”
Vlasak is one of six Tigers starters returning, including fellow center back Maze Mitchell and fellow four-year varsity contributor Dane Cobb.
“There are a lot of young players, and most of them are pretty new to the whole program,” Cobb said. “It’s fun to show how Tiger soccer is played and how we all work super hard.”
Cobb has eight goals in three games, and the Tigers are off to a 4-0 start in the Greater Spokane League.
“I love (scoring) so much, Cobb said. “And I remember when I was a freshman, seeing all the seniors score and celebrate and win us games.
“I love how it’s my role now to do that and just feels good to fulfill that.”
“Dane is off to an amazing start and has been nearly unstoppable,” LC head coach Mica Lamb said.
Lamb said this Tigers team may be the most fluid and potent attacking team he has coached.
Vlasak is responsible for organizing the defense and, as a senior, keeping the whole team on track. The defense has only allowed two goals this season.
“His main role on our team is that he is just an amazing leader,” Lamb said. “At practice, he’s basically making sure that everything looks like it should. He understands what our program is about and what it takes to be successful. And he just makes my job so much easier, because he is just that vocal leader, and he’s one of those kids that just does everything right. This is really his team.”
Vlasak and Cobb have been on varsity all four seasons. Vlasak’s leadership style is a mix of his own and previous team leaders.
“Every single practice was a grind, every single practice was almost borderline fist fighting,” Vlasak said. “The seniors just pushed us to the limits. I put my all into every single practice and I grew so much as a player. That was the best year of soccer my life, for sure.”
Lamb, who is in his 10th season with LC, said last season’s seniors have reached out to check in with the program to see how it is performing, even though they are all preoccupied with their own lives.
“It really is a family-type atmosphere where once you finish your four years, you’re still a part of what we do around here,” Lamb said.
Cobb said the past players checking in means a lot to the team.
“It tells us that they still care about how Tiger soccer is dealing and that they still have a part in their heart for Mica (Lamb) and the whole team,” Cobb said.
The shortened 2021 season is a relief for all.
“I just think, at this point, we’re just so grateful for an opportunity to get to play because it was taken away from us last spring,” Lamb said.
“We literally found out that we were going to be sent home from school and sports were going to be canceled an hour before our first match last year. And it was devastating to our guys.”
“We just train hard and we go into the games and we put it all out there,” Vlasak said. “At least for us seniors, it’s the last thing we have.”
4A/3A (2019 GSL finish/records)
Gonzaga Prep (fourth, 5-4): The Bullpups, led by third-year coach Johnny Bartich, have five varsity-quality keepers, far and away their most senior position. Three starters and nine players return from the 2019 season, so Bartich said the faces will have to acclimate quickly in the shortened season. Key returners: MF Johnny Finnegan, D Tyler Gates.
Mead (third, 6-3): The Panthers came into the 2021 season with three new starters among their backline for fifth-year coach Steven Acosta. Midfield is their strength, with two senior leaders to feed the young attackers up front. They will look to control possession and be clinical in attack. Key returners: MF Parker McKeen, MF Josh Healy, D Josh Demant.
Mt. Spokane (seventh, 3-6): Mt. Spokane lost a good portion of its depth but returns five seniors who have been on varsity since freshman year for fourth-year coach Morgan Hartanov. The Wildcats will be a quick team that will need to develop as the season goes on. Key returners: MF Jared Schnug, MF Brayden Wilsey, D Kinkade McMurray, F Keagan McMurray, F Ryan Rosselet.
University (sixth, 5-4): The Titans are young but are trying to build a culture. Ten seniors left the squad, so the key will be to see who steps up for sixth-year coach Mitch Weller. Key returners: F Ryan Crippen, MF Logan Krum, M Espen Sande, D Tynan Silva.
Clarkston (Great Northern League second, 5-3): The Bantams lost almost their entire roster from 2019, starting the season with only one remaining starter and a new coach, Jerry McGowan, who steps in from the JV/varsity assistant ranks. Clarkston will lean on a small group of high-level players at the top to drive the team. Key returners: MF Seth Brown, D Korvin Jones, MF Aaron Bunce.
Pullman (GNL third, 4-4): Doug Winchell starts his 14th season looking for his program’s fourth league title in the past six seasons. The team has most of its returners on the defensive side of the ball. The key to Pullman’s success will be consistently finishing scoring opportunities. Key returners: F Isaac Kim, D Zach Farnsworth, D Kellan Yoshikawa, GK Max Wolsborn.
Rogers (GSL 10th, 0-9): COVID-19 outbreaks and injuries within the program have caused a lot of early issues in coach Mike Duke’s first season. Some games, the Pirates trot out 11 or 12 healthy players. Duke said he has a tough group that wants to be out on the pitch. Key returners: MF Shamir Gurung, MF Isaac Sweeney, D Aaron Cox.
Shadle Park (GSL ninth, 1-8): A lot of depth was lost over the canceled season and from 2019, so second-year coach Russell Davis will be looking for a scorer to emerge and for the team to lean on its effort and focus. The lack of high-level soccer experience and little depth is a concern. Key returners: MF Gage Smith (2nd Team All-GSL), MF Andrew Jensen.
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