Spartan kickers look for a balanced attack

Spartan Zach Mallove executes a somersault throw in. - JIM BRYANT photo
Spartan Zach Mallove executes a somersault throw in.
— image credit: JIM BRYANT photo

The squad needs more goals to complement a stingy defense.

Building on the defensive strength of last year’s Spartan soccer team seems like the only choice for Bainbridge coach Anh Tran.

He is adding three young players from a state championship select team, to seven seniors and four juniors whose improvement gets the coach just a bit giddy.

But playing in the talent-rich Metro League sobers the optimism.

“We’ll have our work cut out for us,” he says. “That is for sure.”

Losing five players from last year’s 3-9-2 season, the program returns 11 veterans who contributed to a staunch defense that last year held opponents to just 19 goals.

The team features a new goalkeeper in sophomore Alex Bolt, whose improved play is drawing attention.

“All but one game we lost by two goals,” Tran said. “The league- leading team (Bishop Blanchet) had 23 goals scored against. We had great defense, but were not able to score much.”

“We should have more points on the board this year.”

Tran anticipates more scoring punch this year from improved underclassmen, and the senior leadership of his three captains – forward/midfielder Zach Mallove, forward Jesse Burk-Rafel and midfielder John Grue.

Tran finds optimism in a balanced roster that’s brimming with promise. With soccer development emphasized through local club play, the high school roster is much like a community all-star team – “a chance to have some fun and see how far we can take it,” as one player put it.

Sophomores, defender Zach Connor and midfielder Will O’Donnel, are joined by Dylan Tucker-Gangnes, a freshman midfielder.

Tucker-Ganges comes off a historic state title as part of the FC Red Brumby team that won the boys under-16 championship earlier this month.

Junior defender Francis Waplinger, who plays for a premiere team in Seattle, returns to the defense as well.

To replace Bolt, who will miss several games for tournament play in California, Tran will give opportunities to the best performers on the junior varsity squad.

Tran picks Nathan Hale to win the Metro League’s Sound Division but has no comment on who will survive the Mountain Division.

“Every team from the Mountain Division is so tough,” he says. “Seattle and Lakeside are the two who have represented the league at State the most. O’Dea and Blanchet will have strong teams this year.”

The Spartan boys open at home March 18, hosting Port Townsend at 7 p.m. at Memorial Stadium, then travel to Sequim before hosting rival North Kitsap on March 26.

League play heats up with the Lakeside Lions traversing the Sound for the first Metro match March 29 on Bainbridge at 5:30 p.m.

That’s when Tran and the Spartan soccer squad can measure their progress for the Metro season.

* * * * *


March 18 vs. Port Townsend, 7 p.m.

March 22 at Sequim, 6 p.m.

March 26 vs. North Kitsap, 1:30 p.m.

March 29 vs. Lakeside, 5:30 p.m.

March 31 at Nathan Hale, 4 p.m.

April 8th vs. West Seattle, 5:30 p.m.

April 12 at O’Dea, Queen Anne Bowl, 3:30 p.m.

April 14 vs. Bishop Blanchet, 5:30 p.m.

April 21 at Seattle Prep, 3:30 p.m.

April 26 vs. O’Dea, 5:30 p.m.

April 28, at Lakeside, 4 p.m.

May 3 vs. Eastside Catholic, 5:30 p.m.

May 5 at Bishop Blanchet, 3:30 p.m.

May 10 vs. Seattle Prep, 5:30 p.m.

May 12 at Eastside Catholic, Starfire Complex in Tukwila, 4 p.m.

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