This is the fifth installment The “Full 80” prep boys soccer blog for the spring of 2014. Here’s a look at Skyline’s quick rebuild after losing eight starters, marquee matches and rankings.
Skyline rebounds quickly after losing eight starters from 2013
Don Braman knew he would need to find some missing pieces.
The head coach of the Skyline High School boys soccer program was confident he could find enough talent to replaced eight starters from last year’s 10-0-0 KingCo 4A regular-season champions.
But even Braman wasn’t sure the Spartans would be rebuilt and meld this quickly.
The 2014 version of Skyline soccer is all about winning together. That cohesiveness has been manifested in an 8-0-3 start overall and an opening 5-0-1 KingCo 4A burst, putting the Spartans just behind Issaquah (7-0-0).
“This is all a product of the hard work the boys have invested,” said Braman, who led the 2011 Spartans to a Class 4A state runner-up finish. “There are a lot of players who understand what it takes to be competitive in this league, and they are all on the same page together and that’s helpful.
“But essentially, we lost the core from last year. We lost two goalkeepers, both center backs, both center middies [midfielders] and some players up front. We lost quite a bit.”
The Spartans’ defense has proven strong, despite losing three of four starting defenders and two regular goalkeepers. Skyline, with just junior defender Garrett Strawn back on the back line, has outscored foes 19-3 so far.
First-year goalkeepers – senior Jack O’Keefe and sophomore Alex Appel – are splitting time manning the posts with O’Keefe opening most matches and Appel finishing. A third keeper, Brice Escobar, has helped the team combine for shutouts in all eight of their wins.
Skyline looked poised to make its fifth consecutive trip to state, barring a total collapse in the second part of the season.
“We try to be strong defensively,” Braman said.
Players stepping into new and bigger roles on defense are central defenders Nick Morgan, a junior, and Nick Christoforou, a senior, and senior right back Jake Therrien.
“Those guys are playing well,” said Braman. “We’re going to need them to continue playing well. I think they’ve proven they can handle the complexities of things.
“Any time you put a bunch of new players together, you want to make sure they know what the responsibilities and how they cover for one another. They’ve adjusted well.”
The fourth-ranked Spartans will be attempting break a two-match losing streak in the first round of state in 2012 and 2013. They fell 1-0 in overtime shootout to Camas in 2013.
Skyline opened the 2014 season with a 1-1 tie at home against Camas, now top-ranked in Class 4A, on March 15 and the Spartans also own a 1-0 triumph at Snohomish, now No. 7 in 4A, on March 22.
Of the teams he’s seen or faced, Braman understands the talent level his team is up against.
“When we played Snohomish they didn’t have all their players and they played the night before, and I could make them a lot of excuses if I was trying hard,” Braman said. “We weren’t at full strength either. I think they were good. I think Camas is right up there. I really think it’s us, Camas and Snohomish that are at the top.
“And, until someone says otherwise, Issaquah has to be in that conversation, too.”
On offense, senior forward Jason Twaddle has produced seven goals and one assist in the Spartans’ revival season.
“He is a [NCAA] Division I kind of player,” Braman said of the team captain. “He’s one of our best players. He brings a little bit of everything to the table. Jason has the talent to play at the next level, no question.
“He’s big. He’s strong. He’s fast. He’s got good skill with his feet and he’s intelligent. We can do a lot of different things with him.”
Twaddle was the kicker on Spartans’ state-qualifying football team in the fall.
“He’s built more like a tight end,” Braman said.
The three full-time starters who are back from 2013 are Twaddle, Strawn and junior midfielder Nate Hardwick. Senior midfielder Armeen Badri saw some limited time with the first team in 2013.
Another player who started in 2013 – junior midfielder Sean Curtis – has been plagued by injuries this season and has rarely seen action.
“We are still trying to figure out how to use the assets that we have,” Braman said. “We haven’t seen anything close to a full 80-minute example of quality play and that’s something we are striving for.
“We feel like the league is really tight and anybody can beat you on a given night.”
It marks one more season with a Strawn sibling playing for the Spartans. Garrett Strawn is the third brother to suit up in the green and silver, following older siblings Kaleb, a 2013 graduate, and Travis, a 2011 grad.
The last Strawn to come through the program is freshman Tanner Strawn, who is on junior varsity this season.
The last time Skyline was closest to winning a state title in boys soccer came in 2011 when Travis Strawn was a senior. The Spartans fell to KingCo 4A and Sammamish Plateau neighbor Eastlake 2-0 in the 4A championship in 2011.
Othello playing some of state’s best soccer
It all starts with a creative midfielder and freaky fast forwards.
The Othello High School boys soccer team is hard to contain any way you slice it. The Huskies lead the Central Washington Athletic Conference (CWAC) with a 4-0-0 record and they are off to a 10-1-0 start overall.
A lot of it has to do with senior midfielder Jason Rodriguez, who is the focus of the Othello attack. Rodriguez, who has signed to play at Columbia Basin College next fall, has filled the stat book with nine goals and 10 assists for the Huskies.
Making the runs up top are juniors Khristian Herrera and Gus Roa. Senior goalkeeper Angel Rangel provides the Huskies, ranked No. 5 in Class 2A, with one of the top keepers in the CWAC.
“This year and next year we look really strong,” said Garza, whose team didn’t reach state in 2013 after falling to Cheney 2-1 in two overtimes in the state 2A quarterfinals in 2012. “We’re close. I’m bias, because I’m the coach. We’re looking good. We had one year  when we were 15-1, and that was the year we lost to Cheney in the quarterfinals and we could’ve been the one in the Final Four and we could’ve been the one to win it all.
“But we lost to them. Then, they ended up being champions last year [in 2013]. We were that close. I think this our year, knock on wood.”
The school’s best finish was a third in Class 2A in 2002. Garza feels like he has the talent to eclipse that showing.
So far, the Huskies have outscored opponents 35-11 in 11 matches. They will be hard to stop.
“My goal is to win as many games as we can and get the Final Four, and get what we can,” Garza said. “We have a lot of juniors and two seniors. We’re looking at this year and next year.”
Garza sees Toppenish (5-3-1 overall, 2-0-0 league) as the main obstacle to first winning the CWAC title.
“They are like 3-0 in league and they’ve lost four or five nonleague games, but they are coming up,” he said. “That’s a team, if we beat team, it will be for the league title and possible placing for state.”
Othello beat Toppenish 2-0 at home on March 25 and the rematch is April 29 at Toppenish at 7 p.m.
The Huskies lone loss was at Pullman 2-1 in overtime shootout on March 27. Othello won the first meeting with Pullman 2-1 in OT shootout on Match 15 to open the CWAC season.
In Rodriguez, Garza has top-flight talent.
“He’s the best midfielder in the league,” Garza said of Rodriguez. “And, we have two of the fastest forwards in the league. We’re averaging four goals a game.”
Against lesser CWAC foes, Garza substitutes a lot after building a big first-half cushion.
“I believe in saving guys for later on,” he said. “Other teams play their full team the whole game. Down the line, I will need my guys healthy. Plus I’m not like that [running up the score].”
ScoreCzar.org gives its unique twist on rankings
Here’s the link to the latest 2014 ranking for boys soccer by ww.scoreczar.org:
Marquee matches upcoming
Tuesday, April 22
KingCo 4A: Woodinville at Ballard; Skyline at Garfield; Redmond at Inglemoor; Newport at Roosevelt, all 7:30 p.m.
SPSL 4A South: Graham-Kapowsin at Emerald Ridge; Curtis at Puyallup at Sparks Stadium, both 7:30 p.m.
SPSL 4A North: Auburn Riverside at Kentridge; Auburn at Kentwood; Jefferson at Mount Rainier, all 7:30 p.m.
WesCo 4A: Lake Stevens at Kamiak; Monroe at Mariner; Jackson at Snohomish, all 7:30 p.m.
KingCo 3A/2A: Interlake at Mercer Island; Liberty (Issaquah) at Lake Washington; Mount Si at Sammamish, all 7:30 p.m.
3A Metro League: Franklin at Ingraham, 3:30 p.m.; West Seattle at Chief Sealth; Bainbridge at Lakeside, both 4 p.m.
Seamount League: Tyee at Highline, 5:30 p.m.; Hazen at Renton, 6 p.m.
Cascade Conference: South Whidbey at Cedarcrest; Archbishop Murphy at Granite Falls, both 6 p.m.
SPSL 2A: Sumner at Orting, 7 p.m.
1A Emerald City League: Seattle Academy at Overlake, 4 p.m.
1A Nisqually League: Seattle Christian vs. Cascade Christian at Sumner HS Stadium, 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 23
Seamount League: Lindbergh at Kennedy Catholic, 6 p.m.
SPSL 3A: Bonney Lake at Auburn Mountainview; Lakes at Enumclaw, 7 p.m.
WesCo 3A: Shorewood at Glacier Peak; Meadowdale at Shorecrest, both 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 24
3A Metro League: Chief Sealth at Franklin; West Seattle at Cleveland, both 3:30 p.m.; Rainier Beach at Nathan Hale, 4 p.m.
Friday, April 25
KingCo 4A: Woodinville at Bothell; Roosevelt at Garfield; Newport at Inglemoor; Redmond at Issaquah; Eastlake at Skyline, all 7:30 p.m.
SPSL 4A South: Emerald Ridge at Federal Way, 5:30 p.m.; Beamer at Rogers (Puyallup), 7:30 p.m.
SPSL 4A North: Kentridge at Auburn; Kentwood at Jefferson; Mount Rainier at Tahoma, both 7:30 p.m.
WesCo 4A: Kamiak at Jackson; Mount Vernon at Lake Stevens; Edmonds-Woodway at Lynnwood; Cascade (Everett) at Mariner; Monroe at Snohomish, all 7:30 p.m.
KingCo 3A/2A: Bellevue at Interlake; Mercer Island at Juanita; Sammamish at Liberty (Issaquah); Lake Washington at Mount Si, all 7:30 p.m.
Seamount League: Highline at Hazen, 6 p.m.; Foster at Tyee, 7:30 p.m.
WesCo 3A: Marysville-Pilchuck at Mountlake Terrace; Marysville Getchell at Oak Harbor; Everett at Stanwood, all 7:30 p.m.
3A Metro League: Bainbridge at Chief Sealth; Franklin at Lakeside, both 4 p.m.
Cascade Conference: Cedarcrest at Archbishop Murphy; King’s at Granite Falls, both 6 p.m.; South Whidbey at Lakewood, 7 p.m.
SPSL 2A: White River at Fife; Franklin Pierce at Orting; Sumner at Washington, all 7 p.m.
1A Emerald City League: University Prep at Overlake, 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 26
Nonleague: Seattle Academy at Capital (Olympia); University Prep at Friday Harbor, both Noon; Overlake at Bishop Blanchet, 5 p.m.; Snohomish at Glacier Peak, 7 p.m.
National rankings picture
The second spring boys soccer rankings from National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) came out on Tuesday, April 8. The next set of rankings is due Tuesday, April 22. Three teams from Washington state were ranked in the top 20 were in the second set of rankings for the spring of 2014. Class 4A Camas checks in at No. 9, Skyview of Vancouver at No. 10 and Skyline at No. 20.
The NSCAA regional poll was filled with all Washington teams, from No. 1 through No. 10. Here’s the second Region V poll for spring of 2014 (also pasted below) on Tuesday, April 8:
2014 SEATTLE TIMES STATE BOYS SOCCER RANKINGS
Here are The Seattle Times rankings for Class 4A, 3A and 2A for Week 5 of the 2014 season (this year’s record in parentheses):
Week 5 rankings – 4A, 3A, 2A
(2014 records in parentheses)
1, Camas (8-0-2)
2, Skyview (Vancouver) (9-0-1)
3, Kentwood (8-0-2)
4, Skyline (8-0-3)
5, Issaquah (9-0-1)
6, Ferris (Spokane) (9-0-0)
7, Snohomish (9-1-0)
8, Gig Harbor (7-1-0)
9, Union (Vancouver) (8-2-0)
10, Jefferson (6-2-1)
On the bubble: Federal Way (6-3-1), Inglemoor (6-4-1), Redmond (6-3-1), Ballard (7-3-0), Lewis & Clark (Spokane) (7-2-0), Central Valley (Spokane) (7-2-0), Puyallup (7-2-1), Kentridge (4-2-4), Rogers (Puyallup) (6-1-3), Kamiak (6-4-0), Mariner (4-2-2), Pasco (7-3-0), Beamer (4-2-2), Lake Stevens (7-2-2), Davis (Yakima) (7-2-1), Curtis (5-1-3), Mount Rainier (5-2-3), Tahoma (5-2-3), Olympia (5-2-1).
1, Bonney Lake (8-1-1)
2, Glacier Peak (8-0-1)
3, Sunnyside (10-0-0)
4, Lakeside (7-1-0)
5, Mount Spokane (7-1-0)
6, Hanford (7-2-0)
7, Kennewick (9-2-0)
8, Liberty (Issaquah) (7-2-2)
9, Mount Si (7-2-2)
10, Shorecrest (8-2-0)
On the bubble: Mountain View (Vancouver) (7-2-0), Shelton (5-2-1), Mercer Island (5-2-4) , Shorewood (6-2-2), Oak Harbor (4-4-1), Stanwood (4-4-1), Interlake (8-3-0), Hazen (4-2-4), Kennedy Catholic (6-1-3), Tyee (3-1-4), Lakes (5-4-0), Auburn Mountainview (4-2-1), Nathan Hale (5-1-3), Ingraham (5-2-4), Chief Sealth (5-2-2), Bainbridge (6-2-0), Decatur (5-2-0), Wilson (Tacoma) (5-3-0).
1, Cheney (9-1-1)
2, Archbishop Murphy (9-0-1)
3, Capital (9-0-0)
4, Squalicum (8-0-2)
5, Othello (10-1-0)
6, Sedro-Woolley (8-1-1)
7, North Kitsap (9-1-0)
8, Fife (7-1-0)
9, Hockinson (8-1-0)
10, Anacortes (8-1-1)
On the bubble: Aberdeen (8-2-0), Bellingham (5-2-4), Orting (6-2-1), Pullman (7-2-0), Ridgefield (5-2-1), Cedarcrest (5-3-0), Kingston (8-2-0), Sequim (8-2-0), Franklin Pierce (3-4-1), Lake Washington (4-5-2), Foster (7-1-1), Toppenish (6-3-1), Ellensburg (5-4-0), Sehome (6-2-3), Sumner (5-4-0).