Boys soccer: Team unity looks to be one of the squad's strengths in 2011
by: DAN BROOD FLICK KICK — Domenico Del Prete (right) is a top returnee for the Timberwolves.

TUALATIN - The Tualatin High School boys soccer team looks to have a lot going for it heading into the 2011 season.

A lot.

And that has the Timberwolves optimistic heading into this year's campaign.

'Overall, I think this is one of the strongest teams we've had here in years,' Tualatin coach Eric McClellan said. 'We've got youth and quality players. And the team unity has rejuvenated me. The kids come to work and they want to learn.'

While Tualatin does have plenty of youth this season, the Wolves also have some strong players back from last year's squad that finished in fourth place in the Pacific Conference standings at 7-5-2 while going 8-6-2 on the season.

'We've got 11 returnees, and the newcomers are doing well,' McClellan said.

In the front line, Tualatin will be led by senior Domenico Del Prete and sophomore Luis Martinez.

'We'll be tough to stop,' McClellan said. 'We've got speed and skills up front.'

Sophomore Damien Cortez-Garcia could be a key player for Tualatin in the midfield.

'He'll be a leader there,' McClellan said.

In the back, Tualatin has a pair of returning starters in senior Thomas Kirby and sophomore Ryan Hyatt.

'We'll be strong up the middle,' McClellan said. 'And they'll lead us in back.'

Tualatin has a proven player at the goalkeeper spot in senior Jeff Rott.

'He's the guy,' McClellan said. 'Every senior year, our goalkeeper has been the league's keeper of the year.'

Freshman Javier Miranda could have an immediate impact for the Wolves, playing up top or at an outside midfielder spot.

Senior Jason Armillas and junior Johnny Thayer are battling for playing time in the midfield.

'They play the same position,' McClellan said. 'They're both playing well and they're both very crafty.'

Other players on the Tualatin varsity roster are seniors Jesus Perez, Matias Silvestre, Naoki Minato and Cory Brown, juniors Saif Alkikabi and Rigo Rodriguez, and sophomores Sebastian Enrique Del Prete Rengel, Graham Fletcher, Damien Cortez-Garcia and Jake Gellos.

As for the Pacific Conference this season, McClellan sees defending champion McMinnville as being the possible favorite.

'You can't go wrong with McMinnville,' he said. 'They've been the top dog the last couple of years. Tigard should be good and Glencoe could jump in there. We're also in the mix.'

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