Central Valley boys soccer coach Andres Monrroy won’t downplay his young team’s chances this year.
“I believe we’re going to compete for the league title,” said Monrroy, whose club reached the State 4A semifinals two years ago but finished second behind Ferris in the Greater Spokane League last year.
“Second place, we don’t consider that a successful year,” said Monrroy, who returns seven starters off a 9-5 team that was eliminated at district.
Then again, there was a fine line between winning and losing last year: The top five teams finished within a game of one another.
The Bears have just three seniors on the roster but they include all-GSL first-team defender Karl Ellingson and talented forward Miguel Naves, a second-team selection.
“We’ll be very strong in the back,” said Monrroy, who predicts tight battles for several positions, with several sophomores in contention for starting spots.
A newcomer to watch is freshman striker Noah Whitman.
At defending champ Ferris, coach Robin Crain welcomes back six starters from a team that reached the quarterfinals, including versatile senior midfielder Connor Ourada.
“He’s a great field general, able to direct players and he covers so much ground in space, and that makes us really dangerous,” Crain said of Ourada, a GSL first-team pick last season.
Another key starter returning for the Saxons is senior forward Matt Beaulaurier, a second-team all-GSL pick last year whose long throw-ins have wreaked havoc with opponents.
Lewis and Clark enjoyed a breakout year in 2013, reaching regionals behind a stout defense, but this year “there are some concerns along the outside back line and in goal,” coach Mica Lamb said.
Centerbacks Ben Thompson, a GSL first-teamer last year, and Ben Blakely will anchor the defense for the Tigers, who have plenty of targets up front in Trevor Briggs, Connor Gu and Heny Smaldon.
“I feel we have a team that could contend for the GSL title,” Lamb said.
Mead looks to return to district after a one-year absence. The Panthers aren’t exactly rebuilding, but they’re “pretty young,” according to coach Kevin Houston.
Key returners include seniors Tanner Wilburn and Nolan Eldridge; junior Alex Ewert and sophomores Koby Wilburn, Hayden Del Pizzo, Michael McLeod and Dominic Welch.
Another key player is junior defender Lambic Muntu.
“Right now, what I like is they’re pretty hard-working,” Houston said. “We’re a physical team, not afraid of contact.”
Mt. Spokane looks to be the most experienced team in the GSL, returning 10 starters and 14 lettermen, including all-GSL first-team forward Jack Gularte and second-team midfielder Chase Milligan. Robert Powles is back in goal for the third season.
“We have some great younger talent as well as a lot of senior leadership,” coach Ryan Campanella said.
Shadle Park enjoyed a breakout season in 2013, winning the 3A district title and reaching regionals. With five returning starters, coach Donavon Hodgson predicts his team is “coming together quickly and will be another surprise team.”
A key returnee is senior defender Takoda Daubal, who was all-GSL last year.
Gonzaga Prep coach Matt Kinder returns just three starters and no all-GSL players from a team that finished 8-8 overall and 6-3 in the GSL. “We’re very young and inexperienced,” Kinder said.
At University, coach Scott Kerwien returns only four starters from a team that also reached regionals; the Titans also lost leading scorer Trevor Martin (12 goals and three assists last year) to an offseason knee injury. However, Kerwien may get some help from German exchange student Yannick Vincenti, and Job Moore, a senior midfielder who didn’t play last season.
At North Central, new coach Matt Leonard says the Indians have “great fight and energy, but we don’t have a lot of experience.” Leonard calls junior forward Drew Williams “one of the most dangerous forwards in the GSL,” and also hopes to get an impact from Mohamed Adam, a sophomore from Egypt.
While Cheney looks to be a heavy favorite in the Great Northern League, East Valley hopes to return to the State 2A playoffs with five returning starters.
“We have depth, work ethic, toughness and leadership,” said Knights coach Jeff Paulus, whose club finished 10-3 last year.
Pullman figures to improve on a 7-5 season thanks a pair of returning all-GNL first-teamers in defender Moritz Lange and midfielder Justin Pintak.
West Valley, 5-7 last year, returns first-team forward Brandon Borg.
At Clarkston, coach Corin Richert welcomes back five starters and nine lettermen, including all-GNL second-teamer Bronson Boardman.
|GSL Predicted finish||7. Gonzaga Prep|
|1. Central Valley||4. Mead||8. University|
|2. Ferris||5. Mt. Spokane||9. North Central|
|3. Lewis and Clark||6. Shadle Park||10. Rogers|
|GNL Predicted finish||5. Colville|
|1. Cheney||3. West Valley||6. Clarkston|
|2. Pullman||4. East Valley||7. Deer Park|