Jesuit is favored in Metro
But Westview and Southridge will be tough again in '06 too
Simply the best.
There was no better way to describe the Metro League's boys soccer teams in 2005 when the league claimed three of the state's four semifinal playoff spots, crowned a state champion in Jesuit and the '05 runner-up in Westview.
There's no guarantee the Metro will be that strong again this year, but the smart money wouldn't bet against it either.
'I think Jesuit is going to be good again,' said Westview coach Jim Lekas. 'But all the teams are going to be competitive this year, Jesuit, us, Southridge, Sunset, Beaverton and Aloha.'
'Jesuit is the favorite. They're there every year and then I put us with everyone else,' said Southridge coach Jason Goodrich.
'I think they have the potential to win the league,' added Beaverton coach Ryan Youngblood. 'They're very organized with a strong forward up front who has the ability to take players on and use his team to score goals.'
While Jesuit rates the obvious favorite, the rest of the Metro's teams harbor legitimate playoff hopes as well.
'It's the usual suspects,' said Jesuit coach Dave Nicholas, mentioning Westview and Southridge as his team's foremost challengers. 'It's a tough league.'
Following are previews of the varsity boys soccer teams at the six Metro League high schools.
ALOHA - Progress.
Progress and consistency.
Those things have become part and parcel of the Aloha boys soccer team and the Warriors believe it's time for them to pay off.
'It's something we've been developing the last four years, with the talent level and having a balanced roster,' said Aloha coach Eric Wise. 'We'll be competitive with any team in this league.'
The 2006 Warriors are led by senior forward and leading scorer Eduardo Garcia, junior midfielder Josh Still, junior sweeper Ben Kim and junior goalkeeper James Anderson. All three juniors are third-year starters for Aloha.
'We knew that when those three got to be juniors, we'd start to see some improvement,' Wise said.
Also back from last year's varsity are senior defenders Aaron Taylor and Barry Whittlesey, senior midfielder George Johnson, junior defender Justin Ashby, sophomore midfielder Danny Nasry and junior midfielder Graeme Solin. Newcomers who will see significant roles this year are sophomore forwards Borce Atanosov and Kyle Vsetecka and freshman midfielder Ian DeGraff.
Also due for varsity time this year are senior keeper Travis Ferguson, sophomore midfielder Jake Still, junior midfielder Francisco Lopez, senior forward Kyle Neblett and sophomore defender Ryan Olson.
'This year, it's starting to fall into place,' Wise said. 'That third or fourth spot can be ours. We don't think we can win the Metro, but … we feel like we can get one of those last two spots.'
BEAVERTON - Beaverton starts a new era under new coach Ryan Youngblood this year and hopes its new start yields a state playoff berth by year's end.
'The Beavers have the potential to do well in the league,' Youngblood said. 'However, they are learning a new style of play, which means having to break some bad habits.'
Still, this year's Beavers do have a proven commodity to lead the way in senior center midfielder Demetri Abraham, one of just two returning first-team All-Metro players from a year ago.
'He is great on the ball and has the ability to see the game very well,' Youngblood said.
Two other standouts for the 2006 Beavers will be junior sweeper Danny Day and junior forward/midfielder Shane Lanser.
'Danny will be key for us in the back with his ability to win everything in the air and organize the back line,' Youngblood said. And 'Shane Lanser will be seeing quite a bit of time up front and in the midfield as well. He is a workhorse with a lot of potential to help this team in their success.'
Other experienced varsity returners for Beaverton include senior defender Kevin Foley, junior defender Farbod Sedeh, and junior forward/midfielder Garrett Wilkins.
Also due for varsity time this year are sophomore goalkeeper Christian Boudreau, freshman midfielder Eric Fowler, sophomore defenders Scott Rutherford Alan Ramirez, freshman forward Muhamad Hamadi, junior forward/midfielders Taylor Finney and Evan Lin, junior midfielder Will Normandin, sophomore midfielder Ari Kogan, sophomore forward Nathan Gregg, senior forward Antuan Guzman, junior midfielder/defender Daniel Bahata and senior midfielder Tobias Schafer.
'This year could turn into a rebuilding year as it takes some time to learn a new style of play,' Youngblood said. 'On the other side, they could pick it up quicker then I expected and make things happen midseason.'
BEAVERTON - The bar is typically high for Jesuit's boys soccer team in 2006, and while the Crusaders may eventually clear that bar, there's plenty of work to be done before that happens.
'Obviously, we like our chances as much as anyone else's,' said Jesuit coach Dave Nicholas. 'And on paper, we may be No. 1, but we've got to go out and play the games before we get there.'
The Crusaders return six starters from their 2005 state championship team led by senior defender J.D. Penilton, one of just two first team All-Metro players back in the league, along with senior midfielders Andy Wolverton, Charlie Morrow and Drew Smalley, senior forward Matt Van Houten and junior forward Peter Foster.
'I think No. 1 is that we'll be fairly skillful,' Nicholas said. 'But my concern up to this point has been our defense at the midfield and we'll introduce some new guys there to help that.'
Junior Matt Finn will take over in goal this year, while junior midfielder Winston Pool, sophomore midfielder Danny Maeda, junior defender Justin Chin and senior defender Nick Rilatt all have previous varsity experience and will play significant minutes in '06.
New to the varsity this year are sophomore keeper Nathan Correia, freshman keeper Andy Swope, senior defender Spencer Crisp, junior defender Mark Cushing, senior defender Brandon Rigoni, senior midfielder Tyler Loughlin, sophomore midfielder Andrew Durano, junior forwards Brenden McAleese and Patrick Murray and senior midfielder Tony Jaeger.
'We've got a good group of starters back … but it comes down to chemistry,' Nicholas said.
BEAVERTON - Coming off a season in which they reached the state semifinals and nearly the state title game, one might expect Southridge's Skyhawks to be resting on their laurels.
But Southridge knows that the Metro League is no place to rest, especially since last year's efforts still left the Skyhawks as just the third best team in the league.
'We've got a pretty good group back,' said Skyhawk coach Jason Goodrich. 'But the Metro as a whole has a lot of depth. On any given day, any team can beat any other team.'
The '06 Skyhawks have three all-leaguers back, including junior midfielder Jace Green (a second-teamer in '05), junior midfielder/forward Israel Vega (a second-teamer) and senior midfielder Shawn Gutske (a third-teamer in '05).
'Jace Green is one of our captains and he's taken on a leadership role on the team. Gutske too,' Goodrich said.
Also back with varsity experience are sophomore midfielder Michael Dindia, senior defenders Trent Oleszczuk and Taylor Cheek, senior midfielder Amir Tanaomi, senior forward Sebastian Bernal, and sophomore forward Mitch Steckler. Junior midfielder/defender Turner Bloom, a transfer from Hawaii, and senior goalkeeper Rick Baker, a transfer from Beaverton, are also expected to play a prominent role.
'I think the difference between last year's team and this year's team is that last year's team had a lot of seasoned veterans,' Goodrich said. 'This year we've had kind of a learning curve.'
Also due for varsity time are sophomore goalkeeper Andrew Bonifacio, senior defenders Michael Hill and Anthony Paul, senior midfielders Elliot Sanchez and Eric Doran, junior midfielder/defender Austin McDaniel, junior midfielder/forward Brennan Altringer and sophomore forward Jason Hodgson.
CEDAR MILL - There are knowns and there are unknowns for the Sunset boys soccer team in 2006.
The knowns? The Apollos have proven talents in senior defender Scott Gardner (a second-team All-Metro pick in '05) and senior midfielder Josh Herman (a third-teamer), and they will be solid as a rock defensively.
The unknowns? Where they'll place in the Metro League and how often they'll get the ball into the net.
'I don't know where we'll end up but we're hoping for the top four and a spot in the playoffs,' said Sunset coach Jeff McAllister.
But with Gardner, a top scoring forward, moving to the back to shore up his team's defense, the question is who will do the scoring this season.
'Defensively we're strong. We've got a lot of experienced guys back there and good guys in the middle,' McAllister said. 'But offensively we'll probably struggle a little bit. It's a matter of getting everyone on the same page and getting the ball to the right guys at the right time.'
Other experienced returners include junior keeper Sam Leeding, junior defender Trent Hamilton, junior midfielder Aaron Emch and senior defender Brad Paik, who played as a sophomore but was on the football team last year. Also slated for significant minutes this year are sophomore midfielder Gerald Buxton (a transfer from Westview), junior defender Brad Schmidt, sophomore forward Andrew Sabin and sophomore midfielder Danny Shaner.
New to the varsity lineup are freshman keeper Joe Rayburn, sophomore midfielders Andrew Schmidt, Buck Tufty and Paul Graves, junior midfielder Jack Roeder, sophomore defenders Scott Patterson and Jamie Heath, senior defender Jerad Stensland, sophomore forward Matt Chilcott and freshman defender Jake Schweinfurth.
ROCK CREEK - The 2005 Westview Wildcats soared higher than ever before, flying all the way to the state championship game before falling short against Metro League nemesis Jesuit.
The '06 Wildcats would love nothing more than another dream season, but they also understand there's a lot of work left before they get there.
'I do think we have the potential to be a playoff team … but never have I seen so much parity in the Metro League in my 13 years,' said Westview coach Jim Lekas.
Still, the Cats will benefit from the return of senior midfielder Sean Pullin (a second-team All-Metro pick in '05), though Pullin has only recently returned to the lineup after suffering a severely sprained ankle early this year.
Other experienced returners for Westview are senior defender Zach Bradford ('He's just tough. He's strong. He's quick. A great team leader,' Lekas said), junior midfielders Ryan Hill and Alex Kraft, senior midfielders Zach Calvert and Joel Gutierrez, senior forward B.J. Jenson and junior defender Drew Lusby.
'They all bring that varsity experience and wisdom and they're all hard workers which is nice,' Lekas said.
This year's varsity roster also includes sophomore keeper Matt Dunham, senior keeper Pablo Vallejos, junior midfielder Zach Zimmer, sophomore forwards Adam Irinaga and Eric Hurtado, sophomore defenders Wilver Infante and Patrick Acosta, junior defender Gareth Williams, sophomore midfielder Colin Barich, senior midfielder Garrett McGale, sophomore midfielder Ryan Miller and senior forward Reyes Herrera.