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Knight kickers forge ahead without Garcia
Absent its scoring leader from 2008, the Bremerton boys soccer team looks a little different leading into the 2009 season.
The Knights are without now-graduated Franco Garcia, who in 2008 scored an Olympic League best and team-high 17 goals to go with six assists.
“That’s a big hit,” said coach Randy Lund. “It’s a big void … you lose a guy like Franco Garcia and it’s a lot of goals to make up.”
But Lund said he is confident in key returnees Alex Membrere and Matt Olson, both of whom figure to assume larger roles on the team.
Olson, Lund said, is the team’s frontrunner to burden the scoring load. He was named to the All-Olympic League Second Team despite missing five games last season as a sophomore.
“I think Matt is going to be able to fill that void,” Lund said. “Had he not missed those five games, I think he would have been one of the top five or six scorers in the league.”
Meanwhile, Membrere, who was a team captain last season, should emerge as the Knights’ field general. He will play left midfield.
The Knights lost a handful of players for six games in 2008 due to academic probation, a problem Lund said he doesn’t expect to have this season.
“There’s not a doubt in my mind that if we had those guys all six games, we would have made the playoffs,” Lund said. “We’re not going to go through that again. I’m going to make sure everybody is academically eligible.”
To do so, Lund said he has scheduled study sessions before and after practices, encouraging the players to both get their own work done and help their teammates.
“They are part of the team, and the team wins and loses as a team,” Lund said. “If we lose again because we don’t have everybody there due to academic probation, then those people individually not only have failed, but the team has failed.”
To compensate for the loss of Garcia and the inevitable scoring drop going with his departure, the Knights need to ratchet up the pressure on defense, control the middle-third of the field and, most importantly, Lund said, improve upon their goals-against average.
“I told the boys early this year during a team meeting, ‘If you can get your goals-against average to one or below, we’ll finish in the top three (of the Olympic League),’” Lund said. “The reason why is because defense wins championships. The key for us this year is definitely solidifying our defense. If we do that and stop the attack … I think we’ll do well.”
Lund also said he expects big things from Kevin Farber, a senior midfielder.
“He’s got great vision, he sees the field well, he distributes the ball well,” Lund said. “He’s a key player.”