Tight-knit group hopes to return to its 2011 form

by: VERN UYETAKE - Logan Fritts was one of West Linn's top scorers last year and returns as a key contributor to the Lions this season. West Linn boys soccer coach Greg Bean is “cautiously optimistic” about this year's squad. The Lions finished in a tie for fifth place last season in the Three Rivers League but were just three points away from third.

This year, the league figures to be almost as balanced and the Lions are hoping to turn a few of those close results around in their favor.

West Linn has nine seniors this year along with a strong group of underclassmen that have mixed together well.

“Last year we weren't lacking in talent but we had a hard time finding that chemistry, which showed in some tough situations. We've been working hard on that since December, trying to bring the kids together,” Bean said.

The tactic seems to be working early on as the Lions have formed a close-knit group that is eager for the season to start.

The Lions will be looking for scoring from multiple sources this year. Up front, West Linn returns Jackson Brooke, Logan Fritts and Johnny Tudorache and also added Kegan Wesley, who is new to the program.

“We don't have that freak athlete who's going to score for us every game. We probably have five or six guys who are going to have five or more goals this year,” Bean said.

In the midfield, Ryan Barber and Colton Hefty will man the middle of the field while Wesley may eventually fill in at right wing. Connor Kelly, Tommy Karabeika and freshman Alejandro Lee will also play big roles.

Defensively, Ryan Klose and Lucas Evans will play on the outside of the back line with Blake Hepburn and Ben Sebastian manning the middle of an experienced line.

Goalie Zach Nelson is also returning for the team this season.

“We're not starting from scratch, which is nice. All of our players are familiar with their positions,” Bean said.

The Lions have aspirations to vault back into the upper echelon of the league this year and definitely have the ability to get there.

“A lot of work has to go into it, but the potential is there,” Bean said.

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