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March 26, 2013 at 4:00 AM

Prep boys soccer: The “Full 80” blog – Week 1

Colin Rigby understands the significance of building a program. Now, he gets his chance but under less-than-desirable conditions.

The first-year head coach for the Mercer Island High School boys soccer team, Rigby has an eye to the future but a firm grasp on the past.

As a player and assistant coach for the Islanders, he knows firsthand how hard former coach Steve Newman worked to create a competitive program at Mercer Island.

The 28-year-old Rigby gets his turn, but he will not forget the foundation laid by Newman, who passed away at age 58 on Oct. 12, 2012 of cardiac arrest.

The stamp of Newman won’t leave the program. It will be felt with every step in practice and every pass and every shot during games.

“The dynamic was really great last year,” said Rigby, who was an assistant under Newman in 2012 when the Islanders took second in Class 3A state, going 14-2-4. “As a coach, he was a very strong-minded guy, and stubborn at times, but loyal and definitely had the well-being of the team in his heart.

“He wanted you to know who the boss was. That was him as a coach. As a player, it was fun to play for him.”

Meshing young players together in the short high-school season was Newman’s passion and area of expertise.

“As I tell a lot of people, it’s tough job gathering up 18 or 19 age 14 to 18 year olds and bringing them together in such a short amount of time,” Rigby said. “Also, some of them were premier players and some of them were at the highest level of soccer they would play.

“What he a fantastic job of was make sure everyone received equal treatment. He made sure premiers were playing to have fun and then the other players would get top-level training.”

Newman’s legacy will be honored for his 18 years as coach at MI.

This year’s team, under Rigby’s direction, will wear Newman’s initials “SN” on their warmups jackets and host a game on April 9 against Bellevue at 7:30 p.m. where the longtime mentor will be the focus of the night. It will be called the “Steve Newman Memorial Game.”

“For me, as a player, he taught me to always respect the people who are helping support you as an athlete,” Rigby said. “He made sure every player under him had to respect their teammates, their parents, their teachers and their coaches.

“Then, as a co-coach with him, it was full circle. I learned an incredibly rewarding lesson. You have to give the players respect as well in that there’s so many things that these kids are growing in their lives and you’ve got be patient and value what they are going through. It was the same message for 18 years.”

As for this season, MI retains five starters, but lost 11 seniors and star player Jordan Morris, a midfielder who will play for the Sounders FC Academy this spring instead of the Islanders.

“This kid will play professionally without question,”

Rigby said of the Stanford-bound Morris, who had 25 goals and 15 assists for 65 points in 2012. “He’s literally impossible to replace.”

Key players back for the Islanders are three senior captains in goalkeeper Sam Miller and midfielders Nate Umlauf and Josh Lee. Also back are senior defender Connor Nielson and senior midfielder Jamie Lungmus.

“It’s an enormous difference not having Jordan there, but without question the team has so much spirit and courage going what they’ve gone through [with Newman’s death],” Rigby said. “This team is incredibly motivated. We’re striving to get back to the championship game again.”

The only trips to the 3A state finals were with Rigby either on the sidelines or on the field. As a sophomore starter, Rigby, a forward, played when MI fell in shootout to Monroe 1-0 in 2001.

Rigby and Newman developed respect-filled player-coach relationship and it carried over last season as coaches.

“When I got done with the Sounders, I went over to Europe to play for some lower-level teams, and when I moved back I got a phone call from Steve and he asked me to come back and help him out with the high-school team,” Rigby said. “His intention was to have me take over, at least that’s what he told me and when I gave him my references. He was telling them all the same thing.

“It was fantastic to have that kind of support from him. We always had great respect for each other and we got along fantastically.”

MI is off to a 3-1-0 start under Rigby heading into Tuesday’s home KingCo 3A/2A match against Interlake.

Rigby is embarking his coaching journey with his friend, hoping to make him proud.

“One of the most powerful moments I remember in the whole process was in February of last year, we were taking a CPR class together,” Rigby said. “And, he tells me, ‘I’m glad that you guys are here as there’s a chance you might you may to do that for me because I have these heart issues recently. I’m really glad you’re here to help.’

“We made it through the season and sure enough and everything’s fine and our relationship is great. We got on so well. We both love traveling and scuba diving. We could talk for hours.”

Just when Newman told Rigby said she started to feel better, Newman passed shortly.

“He has just gotten the OK from his doctor to do more, so it was a total shock,” Rigby said.

One day before its season opener, the entire team lined up and introduced themselves to Newman’s sister, Judy, at practice on March 11. A day later, the Islanders won their opener at home 2-0 over Ballard.

“They made sure they let her know that this program was supporting her and her family,” Rigby said. “It was a pretty powerful moment and message to carry on through Steve’s memory. She stopped by and they did this by themselves.”

Steve Newman left money behind for the MI program and his family is cultivating a scholarship fund in Newman’s honor.

Now, it’s time for Rigby to grab the steering wheel and go solo.

“I’m trying to create a Steve Newman-esque type atmosphere and mold these players together,” he said.

Different off-ramp for Jefferson at state?

With many key returners and a strong nucleus of talent, the Jefferson boys soccer team could end up being the team to beat in Class 4A.

But first the Raiders must figure out a way to get out of the first round of the state playoffs.

Jefferson has reached state four of the last five seasons, and in each of those four trips, they’ve exited with a first-round loss, including the last three in a row.

““I thought a state champion was going to come out of our division last year, and in the eight years I’ve been here, I would’ve thought we’d get there two or three times,” said Jefferson coach Dave Hanson said. “We’ve had some talent, but we just didn’t execute in the playoffs.”

The Raiders (5-0-0), who play in the South Puget Sound League (SPSL) North Division, could have a tough enough time exiting district play with Federal Way (5-0-0) looming in the SPSL South.

“If there were state rankings, I would say that both us and Federal Way would be in the top five,” Hanson said. “I don’t know if it’s the most talented team I’ve had . Federal Way’s damn close. On any given day, they could beat us.

“But I haven’t seen anyone better than us. I don’t think there’s anyone better in the North.”

Hanson has the horses to make strides toward the goal of a state title, which the Raiders last won in 2005 with current Sounder Lamar Neagle starring.

Jefferson, which has captured a big-school best seven state crowns and won 19 different SPSL titles, retains the services of senior forwards Brandon Madsen and Luis Alvaro Osornio from last season’s SPSL championship and 4A West Central/Southwest bi-district title winners. They went 14-3-2 in 2012 after dropping a 2-1 overtime shootout decision to Lake Stevens in the first round of state.

Madsen had 10 goals and Orsonio contributed six goals and seven assists in limited time. Orsonio won a spot on reality show Sueño MLS 2012.

The Raiders lineup will be bolstered by the return of seniors Isidro Prado-Huerta and McKay Owsley after they played a season for the Sounders FC Academy. Prado-Huerta, a forward/midfielder, returns after he scored six goals as a sophomore and Owsley, a goalkeeper, put up seven clean sheets two seasons ago.

“Isidro is a special player,” Hanson said. “He was actually training with the [Academy] reserve team. He’s on another level. There’s not a better player in our league that I’ve seend. I’ve got a couple of players who are playing that way.”

Skyview of Vancouver, the defending 4A state champs, Redmond (5-0-0), Snohomish (4-0-0) and Eastlake (3-0-2) all figure to have say in the 4A state ranks.

Class 3A challengers

Defending 3A state champion Bainbridge (2-0-0) and Lakeside (5-0-0) hold strong hands early in the Metro League and that traditionally goes a long ways toward state success. Both will battle for the Mountain Division title.

Chief Sealth (4-1-1) figures to be the dominant team in the Sound Division after winning it in 2012 and reaching state for the first time in school history.

The Seahawks have 17 seniors on an experienced club that fell 2-1 to Shorewood in the first round of state to finish 14-3-1.


Marquee matches upcoming

Tuesday, March 26

KingCo 4A, Garfield (1-1-0) at Redmond (5-0-0), 7:30 p.m.

KingCo 4A, Skyline (3-1-0) at Newport (2-1-2), 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 27

Nonleague, Roosevelt (3-0-2) at Chief Sealth (4-1-1), 6 p.m.

Friday, March 29

Metro League, Chief Sealth (4-1-1) at Bainbridge (2-0-0), 6 p.m. (Sealth won Sound Division and Bainbridge won 3A state title and was second in Mountain Division last season).

WesCo 3A South Division, Shorewood (2-1-0) at Shorecrest (3-1-1), 7:30 p.m. (Two local rivals with strong history clash; Shorewood was top-ranked most of 2012 before losing in state 3A quarterfinals.)

KingCo 4A, Newport (2-1-2) at Issaquah (3-1-1), 7:30 p.m.

SPSL South Division, Puyallup (3-0-2) at Federal Way (5-0-0), 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, March 30

Wesco 4A/3A nonleague, Glacier Peak (1-2-1) at Snohomish (4-0-0), 7:30 p.m. (Two local rivals with strong history clash.)

National rankings picture

The first spring boys soccer rankings from National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) are due to come out on Tuesday, March 26. Three teams from Washington state finished in the top 16 in last year’s final rankings for the spring of 2012. Class 4A state champions Skyview of Vancouver finished No. 10 and 4A runner-up Central Kitsap was No. 11. Bellarmine Prep, third in 4A, came No. 16 in the final rankings. The link is below:

The NSCAA regional poll was filled with all but one Washington team, from No. 1 through No. 10. Here’s the final Region V poll for spring of 2012:

Here’s an early version of the first Region V poll:

Region 5 – Alaska, Washington
Rank Team Name City State Record (W-L-T) State Div. Notes
1 Skyview Vancouver WA 6 – 0 – 0 4A 2012 State 4A Champion
2 Thomas Jefferson Auburn WA 5 – 0 – 0 4A
3 Snohomish Snohomish WA 4 – 0 – 0 4A
4 Federal Way Federal Way WA 5 – 0 – 0 4A
5 Lakeside Seattle WA 5 – 0 – 0 3A
6 Shorecrest Seattle WA 3 – 1 – 1 3A
7 Glacier Peak Snohomish WA 4 – 0 – 0 3A
8 Redmond Redmond WA 4 – 0 – 0 4A
9 Eastlake Sammamish WA 3 – 0 – 2 4A
10 Central Kitsap Silverdale WA 2 – 0 – 2 4A
10 South Anchorage Anchorage AK 2 – 0 – 0 2- 0 win vs. defending state champ Dimond
Date: March 24, 2013

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