Kick-starting the season

Sharks have a series of new and shiny teeth waiting to step up if one gets pulled out of service.

Metaphorically, the boys soccer team has lost a few of their pearly whites – nine to be exact. Eight of those were seniors and one a head coach.

Without missing a beat however, the new set rising seems to be every bit as functional and aggressive as their predecessors.

“It’s anybody’s game this season,” said the Spartans’ new head coach, Anh Tran. “A lot of other teams have lost players, too, and I think it will boil down to who relaxes first and plays together the best.”

Tran, previously the JV head coach, steps in to fill the shoes of longtime varsity coach Alex von Reis Crooks, who retired from the post after last season. Scott Druker now fills the assistant and JV coaching positions.

In only his second year with the program, Tran doesn’t feel he’ll have any bigger challenges than those of every other coach in the league: “Just getting these guys to believe in each other and really fight for each other on the field.”

It’s a task Tran thinks is already well under way. The Spartans bring a solid roster of experienced players to the field, with 10 juniors, seven seniors and two sophomores in the varsity line-up.

Great balls of fire

Although reluctant to single out individual players, Tran anticipates that experience will pay off for players like junior and three-year varsity middle defender Jeff Oldencamp, and the strong goalkeeping of junior Eric Smith.

At midfield, the team will look to senior captain Emmet Adam and first-year varsity junior Marlin Gonda, as well as the endurance of senior forward Tristan Traywick.

“One superstar can’t win a soccer game for you,” said Tran. “I want my guys to lead by example and bring everybody with them.”

Seniors James McAllister, and sophomore Alex Campos round out the front line, while senior Drew Keller and juniors Rudy Pettersen, Jeries Eady, Bill Bruins and goalkeeper Eric ffitch make up the defense that starting goalie Smith believes will be one of the team’s strong points.

“We’ll be just as strong as we’ve ever been,” he said. “We’ve got good team unity and the potential to do at least as well as we did last year.”

Filling in the midfield are experienced seniors Mike Gore, Mike Braun, Tom Armitage, juniors Garret Roe, Brian Ream, Kyle Johnston and sophomore Jordan Droppert.

Metro divided

Split into two divisions for the first time this year, the Metro League has taken steps to even out the disparity in much of the league competition.

The Sound Division includes Bainbridge and mostly private schools, while the Mountain Division comprises largely public institutions. Tran hopes this means fewer blowouts in league play and a better, closer match-up in the final playoff that decides who goes to State.

Last year, the Spartans advanced to the third round of the Metro tournament before being eliminated by Bishop Blanchet.

This year, the second- and third-place teams from each division will face off, with the winner playing the first-place team from their division. Division winners will then play to advance to the State tournament.

Blanchet, O’Dea, Lakeside and Seattle Prep continue to be the most formidable of opponents in the Sound Division, but Tran is quick to point out that upsets often happen.

“Last year we took O’Dea by six points in one game,” he said. “They were a good team, but they eat the same burritos we do. We’ve just got to go out there and play well.”

The spring soccer season gets under way at home on Monday against local rival Central Kitsap. JV start is 5:30 p.m., with varsity competition beginning at 7 p.m.

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