In a league that appears to be wide open for the first time in years, the potential for Lake Oswego's boys soccer team is wide open as well. The team graduated five players but returns six seniors to go along with a loaded junior class. All of that adds up to a squad that could very well contend for the league title.
The Lakers are certainly not lacking in firepower. Lake Oswego has a handful of players who are more than capable to pummeling the opposing net. Forwards Jackson Ray and Ryo Asai are both dangerous up front and were huge contributors last year along with midfielder Troy Hall.
'We definitely have some exciting players at forward and some guys who can hit the ball with a lot of umph,' coach Fraser Morrison said.
The team is still sorting out its defense but Morrison knows that junior Cale Bigelow will anchor the back line and is likely to be among the most talented defenders in the league. He will be bolstered by MacGregor Hodgson and Bryan Williams.
That line will play in front of junior goalie Tommy Olen, who was the back-up on last year's team.
Morrison is currently carrying a relatively small varsity team and anticipates that about eight players will swing up from the junior varsity team. The soccer program had a large turn-out this year of nearly 60 athletes, enough to make up four teams.
In early practices the team is still figuring out its identity but the Lakers figure to be a physical and aggressive squad that will try to transition quickly into its offense and keep the ball on the opponent's side of the field.
'We'll focus on taking care of the ball and not making things more difficult on ourselves than they have to be,' Morrison said.
The coach is also concentrating on keeping his team healthy and not overexerting it during practices since the majority of the players are already in soccer shape due to playing club ball.
'Too much training isn't really what we're all about. These guys play at a high level year round,' Morrision said.
In years past, the Lakers' crosstown rivals from Lakeridge have enjoyed being the favorites to win the league but, this year, there is no clear front runner.
Lake Oswego figures to be near the top of the Three Rivers League in terms of talent but Clackamas should be strong again and Morrison knows it would be a mistake to overlook the Pacers.
'They're definitely still very talented and it's tough to know what to expect from the rest of the league,' Morrison said.
The team will only play two preseason games before getting into its league schedule and it will take on two strong programs in Grant and Tigard, both at home.
'Those games will be a good opportunity for us to see where we're at,' Morrison said.
Sept. 3 at Tigard 7:00
Sept. 4 Grant 8:00
Sept. 9 at Oregon City 7:00
Sept. 11 Clackamas 7:30
Sept. 16 at Lakeridge 5:30
Sept. 18 at Milwaukie 7:30
Sept. 23 West Linn 7:15
Sept. 30 at RexPutnam 7:00
Oct. 2 Oregon City 7:30
Oct. 6 at Clackamas 7:00
Oct. 8 Lakeridge 8:00
Oct. 14 Milwaukie 7:15
Oct. 16 at West Linn 7:30
Oct. 23 Rex Putnam 7:30