This is the seventh installment The “Full 80” prep boys soccer blog for the spring of 2014. Here’s a look at Tahoma’s surprise rise, marquee matches and rankings.
Bears keep surprising foes in rise to top of SPSL 4A North
There isn’t one guy on the Tahoma High School boys soccer team who will overwhelm the competition alone.
But, as a group, the Bears pack a powerful collective punch. An all-for-one and one-for-all mentality is delivering success in 2014.
Tahoma is the surprise of the South Puget Sound League (SPSL) 4A North Division this spring nd is tied for first with sixth-ranked Kentwood at 9-2-3 and 30 points with two matches left in the regular season.
The biggest boost of confidence came on April 29 when the Bears rallied from a 2-0 hole to Kentwood for a 3-2 triumph on the then league-leading Conquerors’ home field. Tahoma notched three goals in the final 12 minutes, including an added-time tally by senior midfielder Edgar Sepulveda.
The win for the Bears, who were 7-8-3 in 2013, made believers out of many, including their coach Jason Johnson, who was reduced to tears after the miracle victory.
“We’ve really come together to do something that the boys know is special,” Johnson said. “It was exciting. It was an epic game against Kentwood. I was shocked and it was a rare moment where I couldn’t find words to describe what happened and there were tears in my eyes. I’d never been part of something like that as a player or a coach.
“It was kind of a feeling of maybe Tahoma boys soccer has arrived. It was like all of sudden they realized how special they could be. I was so proud of them.”
Johnson’s close relationship with many of the players heightened the emotions that night.
“Knowing these kids as a coach and a teacher, it’s really fun to watch them grow,” Johnson said. “These are really nice kids and I’ve gotten to know them. I know how much doing well means to them.”
The win over Kentwood was big for the Bears’ belief system.
“I don’t want to hang my hat on one win, but this really gave them confidence because Kentwood is very, very good team,” Johnson said. “It made them feel like there’s validation, and what they’ve been doing and the work they’ve put in was worth it.”
Johnson couldn’t be more pleased with his team’s stick-to-it attitude.
“We never give up, and that’s been the going theme,” he said. “We’ve struggled here and there and had so many close games. We just have a way to hang in there, and not give up on these close games.”
Tahoma has relied on solid defense and goalkeeping from senior Riley Grant and junior Scott Leathley, who split time in goal. Grant usually starts and Leathley finishes and the duo has combined for seven shutouts.
“We are moving along so far,” Johnson said. “I really love these kids. I feel lucky every day to have the chance to be around them. Their energy and joy for life is infectious. It makes an old guy feel young again.”
Sepulveda leads the balanced attack of the Bears with four goals and six assists. Another senior midfielder, Sean Owens, has five goals and one assist and junior defender Chris Darcy has tallied four goals.
The Bears and their coach are hoping to continue their winning ways into the playoffs. They are 8-0-3 and unbeaten in their last 11 matches.
“I think if we can stay focused, we can surprise some people,” Johnson said. “I think we’ve blown our expectations out of the water for this season. We knew we would be competitive, but didn’t expect this.
“We knew we’d have some returners, but they were pretty young. Something just clicked in after a slow start [1-2-0]. We had a sitdown and we had some good leadership come from that.”
Johnson understands his guys must bring effort on each game day.
“We just have blue-collar guys,” he said. “We don’t have a single guy that sticks out. We just all play together very well.”
Tahoma, which has outscored teams 20-11, hasn’t lost since March 27, a 1-0 defeat at Mount Rainier on March 27. The Bears hope to ride that momentum to one of the school’s best state finishes, if possible.
Tahoma won a 3A state crown in 1992 and finished third in 1996 in 3A. The Bears have followed up six successive first-round state exits in 1997, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2011 and 2012.
Tahoma lost to Central Kitsap 2-1 in a winner-to-state, bi-district match last season to end its season. That will be hurdle the Bears must clear this season to accomplish their amended goals.
“I think we knew we weren’t really going to have tremendous offensive attacking ability, so we’ve made sure we are solid defensively,” Johnson said. “They love to defend. Even my forwards and striker like to get back almost too far sometimes, which is odd.
“We love making teams frustrated. They have really bought into that we’re going to grind games out. We are just able to find a way through most of those frustrating games.”
KingCo 4A title comes down to Spartans, Eagles
KingCo 4A regular-season champion Skyline (12-0-3 overall, 9-0-1 KingCo 4A) meets league runner-up Issaquah (11-1-1, 9-1-0) on Thursday in the KingCo 4A championship match at Skyline at 7:30 p.m.
It is a rematch of the May 1 regular-season finale won by Skyline 1-0 on Jason Twaddle’s goal in the third minute. Jack O’Keefe and Alex Appel combined the shutout.
Skyline is ranked No. 3 in the latest Seattle Times rankings for Class 4A. Issaquah checks in at No. 4. It is the Eagles’ first KingCo 4A championship berth in school history.
Many local leagues conclude regular-season play this week in advance of district and bi-district action the week of May 12-17.
The state tournaments for all classifications playing boys soccer in the spring take place May 30-31.
The Class 1A and 2A Final Fours will be played at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner and the 3A and 4A Finals Fours are scheduled at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup.
Upcoming boys soccer playoff link
(League and district tournaments)
Main bracket page for district
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, May 6
SPSL 4A South: Curtis at Beamer at Federal Way Stadium; Federal Way at Rogers (Puyallup) at Sparks Stadium, both 5:30 p.m.
SPSL 4A North: Kentridge at Kentwood; Auburn Riverside at Jefferson, both 7:30 p.m.
KingCo 3A/2A: Juanita at Interlake; Mount Si at Liberty (Issaquah); Bellevue at Mercer Island; Sammamish at Lake Washington, all 7:30 p.m.
Seamount League: Evergreen at Tyee, 5 p.m.; Hazen at Kennedy Catholic, 6 p.m.; Foster at Highline, 7:30 p.m.
SPSL 3A: Decatur at Enumclaw, 7 p.m.; Bonney Lake at Peninsula, 7:15 p.m.
SPSL 2A: Sumner at Franklin Pierce, 7 p.m.
1A Emerald City League: University Prep at Northwest School at Starfire Sports Complex, 3:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 7
WesCo 4A: Snohomish at Arlington, 7 p.m.; Cascade (Everett) at Edmonds-Woodway; Lynnwood at Jackson; Mariner at Kamiak; Lake Stevens at Monroe, all 7:30 p.m.
3A Metro League: Eastside Catholic at Bishop Blanchet; West Seattle at Franklin; Seattle Prep at O’Dea; Ingraham at Rainier Beach, all 3:30 p.m.; Nathan Hale at Chief Sealth, 4 p.m.; Lakeside at Bainbridge, 6 p.m.
WesCo 3A: Everett at Glacier Peak; Stanwood at Marysville Getchell; Oak Harbor at Marysville-Pilchuck; Shorecrest at Mountlake Terrace; Meadowdale at Shorewood, 7:30 p.m.
1A Nisqually League: Seattle Christian at Vashon, 6 p.m.
Thursday, May 8
KingCo 4A championship: Issaquah at Skyline, 7:30 p.m. (Winner KingCo 4A champion and District 2 No. 1 seed to state)
Seamount League: Kennedy Catholic at Renton, 5:30 p.m.; Evergreen at Foster; Tyee at Hazen; Lindbergh at Highline, all 7:30 p.m.
Friday, May 9
SPSL 4A North: Jefferson at Auburn; Tahoma at Auburn Riverside; Kentwood at Kentlake, all 7:30 p.m.
SPSL 4A South: Beamer at Bethel at Art Crate Stadium; Puyallup at Federal Way; Emerald Ridge at Rogers (Puyallup) at Sparks Stadium, all 7:30 p.m.
SPSL 3A: Enumclaw at Bonney Lake, 7 p.m.
SPSL 2A: Clover Park at Fife; Franklin Pierce at White River, both 7 p.m.
1A Nisqually League: Life Christian at Seattle Christian at Valley Ridge Park, 3:30 p.m.; Cedar Park Christian (Bothell) at Eatonville, 5:15 p.m.
Saturday, May 10
League playoffs, TBA.
National rankings picture
The third spring boys soccer rankings from National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) came out on Tuesday, April 22. The next set of rankings is due Tuesday, May 20. Three teams from Washington state were ranked in the top 20 were in the third set of rankings for the spring of 2014. Class 4A Camas checks in at No. 8, Skyview of Vancouver at No. 11 and Skyline at No. 20.
The NSCAA regional poll was filled with all Washington teams, from No. 1 through No. 9, and only Alaska breaking up the top 10 from Washington. Here’s the third Region V poll for spring of 2014 (also pasted below) on Tuesday, April 22:
2014 SEATTLE TIMES STATE BOYS SOCCER RANKINGS
Here are The Seattle Times rankings for Class 4A, 3A and 2A for Week 7 of the 2014 season (this year’s record in parentheses):
Class 4A, 3A & 2A boys soccer state rankings – Week 7
(2014 records in parentheses)
1, Camas (11-0-3)
2, Skyview (Vancouver) (11-0-3)
3, Skyline (12-0-3)
4, Issaquah (11-1-1)
5, Snohomish (13-2-0)
6, Kentwood (9-2-3)
7, Ferris (Spokane) (12-1-0)
8, Gig Harbor (11-1-0)
9, Union (Vancouver) (10-3-1)
10, Rogers (Puyallup) (10-1-3)
On the bubble: Jefferson (9-4-1), Federal Way (9-3-2), Inglemoor (8-6-1), Lewis & Clark (Spokane) (9-4-0), Central Valley (Spokane) (11-2-0), Puyallup (11-2-1), Kentridge (7-3-5), Kamiak (8-4-2), Mariner (6-4-2), Mount Vernon (8-6-0), Pasco (10-4-0), Beamer (8-4-2), Lake Stevens (7-4-3), Curtis (7-3-4), Mount Rainier (6-3-5), Tahoma (9-2-3), Olympia (7-3-2), Redmond (8-5-2), Roosevelt (9-5-1), Woodinville (9-5-2), Cascade (Everett) (7-5-2), Davis (Yakima) (9-4-1).
1, Bonney Lake (12-1-1)
2, Glacier Peak (10-1-2)
3, Lakeside (10-1-1)
4, Sunnyside (13-1-0)
5, Mount Spokane (10-2-0)
6, Hanford (13-2-0)
7, Liberty (Issaquah) (11-2-2)
8, Mount Si (10-3-2)
9, Shorecrest (11-3-0)
10, Kennedy Catholic (9-1-4)
On the bubble: Mountain View (Vancouver) (10-4-0), Kennewick (10-5-0), Shelton (8-2-2), Mercer Island (7-3-5) , Shorewood (9-2-3), Interlake (10-4-1), Hazen (8-2-4), Tyee (6-4-4), Auburn Mountainview (7-3-1), Nathan Hale (8-1-3), Ingraham (7-3-4), Chief Sealth (8-4-2), Bainbridge (9-3-0), Bishop Blanchet (6-6-2), Decatur (6-5-0), Wilson (Tacoma) (8-4-0), Foss (8-1-1).
1, Cheney (12-1-1)
2, Squalicum (12-0-2)
3, Capital (14-1-0)
4, Fife (11-1-0)
5, Anacortes (12-1-2)
6, Archbishop Murphy (12-2-1)
7, Sedro-Woolley (11-2-2)
8, North Kitsap (12-2-0)
9, Pullman (13-2-0)
10, Kingston (12-2-0)
On the bubble: Othello (12-4-0), Ridgefield (8-3-1), Hockinson (10-4-0), Aberdeen (10-3-0), Bellingham (6-4-4), Orting (9-3-1), Cedarcrest (10-4-1), Sequim (12-2-0), Franklin Pierce (5-6-1), Foster (9-2-2), Toppenish (9-5-1), Ellensburg (9-6-0), Sehome (9-2-4), Sumner (8-5-0), Grandview (9-5-0).