Fitness first for BHS kickers

"Blue-collar hard work, rather than dazzling footwork, will be the key to this year's Bainbridge soccer team.We really work hard on conditioning, third-year coach Alex von Reis Croooks said. We tend to wear people down. We stay close, then tear them apart in the last 10 minutes. Our fitness helps us do that.We don't have the outstanding individuals, von Reis Crooks said. We're more a team of equals. Quickness and skill level will be our strength. On the front line, the Spartans start senior Jeremy Lehv in the middle, sophomore Mitka von Reis Crooks on the left side and junior Alex Ruder on the right. Offensive midfielders are senior Mark Kanev and sophomore Cam Lawer. The defensive midfielders are senior Stefen Paige and junior Matt Dick, while the starting backline consists of seniors J.D. Fisher and Anders von Reis Crooks, plus sophomore Adam Brennamen.Starting in goal is senior Kyle Twitchell, whose development will be one of the keys to the season. He is a good player, von Reis Crooks said, but has not played as much soccer in the past as some of the other net-minders around the Olympic League.He hasn't had the experience of a lot of outstanding offenses coming at him, the coach said, adding that Twitchell should gain that experience during the year.Spartan reserves include senior Ashton Rezayat at forward, senior Arlen Pritchard, junior Jed Ballou and sophomore Kaj Hauschultz at midfield, junior Nicholas Martin on the backline and senior Dan Wilcynski at goalie.Last year's squad went 10-7-2, losing in the opening round of the state 3A tournament. The team's wear-em-down approach has worked to perfection in the year's first two games.In the season opener at home against Klahowya, the squad battled through a scoreless first half, then took over with two late goals to post a 2-0 win. Stefen Paige scored the season's first goal with an assist from Jeremy Lehv. Nine minutes later, Mark Kanev scored off an assist from Matt Dick.The Spartans' game at Sequim followed the same pattern - a scoreless first half followed by two late Bainbridge goals for a 2-1 triumph. Alex Ruder scored first, assisted by Mark Kanev, and Kanev completed the scoring with an assist from Adam Brennamen.The first big test for the team comes tomorrow, when the Spartans travel to perennial powerhouse Port Angeles. Van Reis Crooks said most of the Port Angeles team plays together during the fall season. That experience gives Port Angeles a huge advantage over other Olympic League teams like Bainbridge, where the athletes play on different teams at different levels during the fall, and must come together in a short period of time for the spring high-school season.They have really dominated the past couple of years, von Reis Crooks said of Port Angeles, although he added that the Spartans came close in both games last season.The coach said that again, he hopes to use his team's superior physical conditioning as a weapon. We'll let them spend some energy early, while we save ours, he said. "

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