Upperclassmen team with incoming freshmen
Melding the old with the new is key to Sequim’s success on the soccer field, said head coach Dave Brasher.
With two wins and six league losses in a 4-10-2 season last year, Brasher can’t pinpoint what led the team to slip out of the playoff hunt and to its lowest win total since 2001.
“It’s hard to say,” he said. “I thought we were going to be better.”
The Wolves lose all-league honorable mention goalkeeper and forward Byron Boots, forward Mitch McHugh (all-league Honorable Mention), forward Waylon Lam (team-leading three goals), defender Irons Ring (2nd team all-league), midfielder Ryan Pinza, defender Lorenzo Gonzalez and defender Chris Venegasz.
Returning are first team all-league defender Lijah Sanford, Dorian Halverson and midfielder Mason Barrett. Brasher said Halverson opted not to play goalkeeper, so freshman Austin Wagner will take the spot.
He’s concerned about defense, and that Sanford and Hector Baylon will need to work hard while Wagner will certainly be tested early on.
Hayden James, another freshman, also will start.
“Some players have really stepped up,” he said.
Many of the players kept soccer in the forefront through the offseason, playing on teams together.
Brasher said a group of juniors and seniors played together as did the freshmen.
Players he’s relying on include Barrett and Ron Welches, whom he called important cogs, along with defenders Sanford and Hector Baylon.
“Mason and Ron could be a dangerous front line,” Brasher said.
Nicolas Baird, Eli Berg and Omar Flores help push the tempo as midfielders, too.
“If Baird and Berg can be physical enough in the central midfield, we may be able to hang in there with the big boys,” Brasher said.
The Wolves play only Olympic League teams for their 16 games this season, trading a home and away game with each team.
To get back in the playoffs, Brasher said, they’ll face stiff competition against Kingston and North Kitsap, last year’s undefeated team.
“I’m cautiously optimistic,” he said.