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New starters, same goals for Bremerton soccer team
Randy Lund isn’t afraid to admit it’s a rebuilding season.
One year after winning its first Olympic League title in school history, the Bremerton High School boys soccer team faces an uphill battle after losing nine seniors to graduation. The roster is mostly filled with sophomores and juniors, with two senior starters.
Despite the obstacles, it might not be evident from their demeanor that the team has lost half its roster.
“We’re not going to lay down for anyone,” said Lund following the team’s 5-1 win against North Mason High School Monday. “We have a young team, but we’re still going to be competitive.”
Lund enters his fourth season with Bremerton, having led the program to 10 wins and the district tournament in 2010. The Knights also won the regular-season league title with a win against powerhouse North Kitsap High School late in the season.
The majority of last year’s seniors played defense, which now leaves in question Bremerton’s ability to keep opposing teams out of the net. Junior Mikel Gregory is the lone defensive returner.
However, Lund is still confident that a young roster doesn’t necessarily equate to a sluggish season.
“I’m not worried,” he said. “It’s just a matter of keeping them motivated and focused. A lot of times they kind of veer off and we just have to refocus them on what our goal is.”
The team returns juniors Nick Riders, Alex Correll, Douglas Erickson, Jonathan Ryan and Gregory for 2011. Riders, the top scorer in the league last season, said after Monday’s win that the Knights have worked out the kinks in their schemes by improving formations and getting used to the new lineup.
For now, defense is the only concern, he added.
“By this game, we knew we had everything down and how to get the job done,” Riders said. “We have so many offensive players that all we need to work on is defense, and we believe that’s coming together.”
Following a slow start with a lack of seniors, the Class 3A Knights won their third straight game Monday after plowing through 2A North Mason with five first-half goals. Lund expressed anxiety about his youthful team taking the last-place Bulldogs for granted.
He told his team to play as if the opponent was powerhouse North Kitsap, and the message was received.
“I’m trying to get them riled up and motivated, and it seems to work right now,” he added. “I was afraid they were going to think all they had to do is show up and get a win, and that’s not the case.”
Players are getting more comfortable and the Knights are starting to click now that they’ve settled into starting positions left vacant by last year’s graduating seniors, Riders said. The junior forward added that the squad is content with the winning streak, but that they can’t get too excited this early in the season.
“We can’t get ahead of ourselves,” Riders said. “We need to make sure to play together and play the game the way it needs to be played right now.”
One of the new additions to the Knights this season is defender Michael Lawrence. The sophomore played club soccer in 2010 and has already lettered in basketball and football at Bremerton. Lund described Lawrence as a work in progress.
Lawrence was convinced by the head coach to join the team as a defender. The three-sport athlete said he’s enjoying being one of the fresh faces during the rebuilding process. Amid the roster turnover, the goal to win the league remains.
“We can still hang with the best of them,” Lawrence added. “We want to win the league, we just have to continue to play hard and make sure everyone is on the same page together.”
Riders agreed with his teammate that a young roster won’t stop Bremerton from staying close to its league rivals this spring.
“No matter what happens, we believe we’re going to be able to stay with the top,” Riders said.
Kicking into gear: high school soccer season arrives for Bremerton, Central Kitsap squads.
Coach: Steve Haggerty, 31st season
Last year: 6-11-1 overall, 5-5-1 in Olympic League
Top returners: Harry Hanson, sophomore, goalkeeper and midfielder; Kevin Mears, senior, defender; Chris Howard, senior, midfielder; Riley Dreaney, junior, forward; Trent’n Pajimula, sophomore, midfielder; Franz Plum, sophomore, defender.
Top newcomers: Avory Acfalle, sophomore, midfielder; Mitch Brown, senior, defender; Chris Harper, junior, goalkeeper; Max Plum, freshman, midfielder; Ricky Wright, sophomore, midfielder.
Outlook: The team struggled to score last season, so improving the offense will be a focal point for the Trojans, Haggerty said last week. The longtime head coach added that the team is working hard but their efforts need to translate to wins. He said competing in a competitive league schedule will be grueling as they contend for one of five postseason berths.
Coach: Jeff Quinn, fifth season
Last year: 0-16-0 overall, 0-11-0 in Olympic League
Top returners: Marc Barbosa, senior, center midfielder; Case Gorecki, junior, forward. Top newcomers: Alijah Hawley, freshman, center midfielder; James Charoenmak, freshman, forward.
Outlook: The Eagles haven’t won a game in three years. They’re hoping to end the streak of disappointing results with a mix of seniors and underclassmen. The odds are against Klahowya making a trip to the postseason, but Quinn said last week that he’s hopeful a strong desire from his players will propel the team to a few wins.
Coach: Randy Lund, fourth season
Last year: 10-4-3 overall, 9-1-1 in Olympic League
Top returners: Nick Riders, junior, forward; Alex Correll, junior, midfielder; Douglas Erickson, junior, midfielder; Jonathan Ryan, junior, midfielder; Riley Danskin, junior, midfielder; Mikel Gregory, junior, defender; Matt Sawyer, senior, forward. Top newcomers: Will Avad, sophomore, goalkeeper; Tyler Enloe, sophomore, midfielder; Chris Sargent, sophomore, midfielder.
Outlook: The team fields a young team this season, which hopes to recapture the magic from 2010 when the Knights won the regular-season Olympic League title.
Central Kitsap Cougars
Coach: Christopher Floro, fifth season
Last year: 8-8-1 overall, 5-4-1 in Narrows League
Top returners: Miles Rodriguez Nilsen, junior, midfielder; Brian Bonafilia, senior, midfielder; Trevor Park, junior, defender; Brandon Carlson, junior, defender; Dylan Abrams, sophomore, defender; Jordan Berkley, junior, goalkeeper; Jordan Kollars, sophomore, midfielder.
Top newcomers: Winston Sears, senior, midfielder; Tim Bromley, junior, midfielder; Sam Gomez, freshman, midfielder; Alex Moon, sophomore, defender.
Outlook: Central Kitsap is two years removed from a state tournament appearance, and the Cougars could return this year with a large class of returning players.