Even with a new boys soccer coach, the beat goes on at Lakeside High School.
The Eagles are 6-1 overall and 2-0 in the Northeast A League going into tonight’s match at Newport, and figure to make another run to regionals.
The secret? Tradition and senior leadership, according to first-year coach Chris Windham, who also coaches with the Spokane Shadow and who played at Mead and Spokane Falls Community College.
Windham replaces Mike Reeder, who stepped down last year after winning league Coach of the Year honors.
“It’s a really good group, and they’ve played together for a while,” said Windham, who has six seniors and seven juniors on his 17-man roster.
Leading scorer Eli Williams has 17 goals and eight assists – both team highs – partly because Windham has given him the freedom to “do what he sees, float around and create chances for himself and others.”
Kelly Kyllo, a junior defensive midfielder with nine goals and five assists, has been the glue that’s connected defense and offense.
“A lot of our goals have come from Kelly getting the ball from our backs and finishing,” Windham said.
On defense, Ricky Carroll – like Kyllo a Shadow player – is “as solid as it gets at center back,” said Windham, who also credits goalkeeper Ty Lahue and defender Christian Pedersen, an exchange student from Denmark.
The goal for now, Windham said, is to avoid a midseason lull and stay sharp for regionals, a stumbling block for the Eagles in recent years.
Lakeside has dropped consecutive regional matches to Okanagan the past two years, and fell to Cascade of Leavenworth at the same stage in 2011.
“It’s a big jump once you get to regionals,” said Windham, who scheduled matches against Greater Spokane League teams Shadle Park (a 3-0 loss) and Rogers (a 4-1 win) to open the season.
“We have to stay sharp and keep working toward the bigger goal of getting to state,” Windham said.
It’s only the fourth game of the season, but it doesn’t get much bigger than Central Valley’s home date Wednesday against Ferris.
Fittingly, it will be played under the lights at CV, where the Bears (6-1 overall and 2-1 in the GSL) probably need to win to stay in the hunt for a top-two finish and a chance to avoid a long and winding road at the 4A Regionals.
“We understand that it’s a big game,” said CV coach Andres Monrroy, whose club lost its league opener 2-1 to Lewis and Clark but has since bounced back with wins over Shadle Park (4-0) and University (3-1).
Monrroy said this is his youngest team in seven years, but adds that “if you look at us play, you’ll never guess we’re so young.”
On the other hand, the Bears have seven goals from forward Miguel Naves, one of only two seniors on the roster. The other is defender Karl Ellingson, who has helped the Bears give up just three goals in three GSL matches.
“We’re ready,” Monrroy said.
Elswhere on Wednesday, GSL co-leader Lewis and Clark (3-0) faces a key 4A game against Mead (1-2).
Tough tests for WV in GNL
It’s a big week for third-place West Valley (5-5 overall, 4-2 in the Great Northern League) as the Eagles visit second-place Pullman today, then travel two days later to play at fourth-place East Valley.
West Valley is coming off an 8-0 win over Deer Park in which Chris Lucas scored twice and Brandon Borg picked up a goal and two assists.