Issaquah looks to improve 2009’s surprise success

March 23, 2010

By Bob Taylor

Soccer preview

Quinn Grisham, of Issaquah, leaps up to plant his head on the soccer ball during a match in April 2009. By Greg Farrar

The Issaquah High School boys soccer team was one of the biggest surprises in the 4A KingCo Conference last spring. Issaquah, an also-ran the previous year, reached the state playoffs for the first time.

The Eagles, however, are not satisfied with last season. They have even higher goals for this spring.

“The team wants to win the league title, and even the state championship,” Issaquah coach Jason Lichtenberger said.

But getting through the rugged KingCo could be a challenge.

“We play in the toughest league in the state,” Lichtenberger said. “The league is tough from top to bottom.”

Issaquah returns with an experienced squad headed by senior midfielder Quinn Grisham.

Grisham was the 2009 4A KingCo Player of the Year and was also named an ESPN RISE honorable mention All-American. He has signed a national letter of intent with the University of Washington.

Other key returning players are defenders Conner Holmes and Kelby Lemons, forwards Michael Axelson and Lucas Morais and midfielders Junpei Tsuji and Michael Roberts.

The squad also includes midfielders James Garcia, Carter Mitchell, Tyler Rask and Riley Liddle, forward Brandon Bergfalk and Alex Shane, defenders Raymond Garcia, Connor Gerrity, and Barron Gilmore. Protecting the goal will be keepers Michael Stanton, Nathan King or Evan King.

Issaquah began this season somewhat sluggish. The Eagles lost to Newport 2-0 March 13 in a nonleague game and then fell to Bainbridge 3-0 March 17 in another nonleague game.

The Eagles won their first game of the season March 20, defeating Eastside Catholic 2-0 in a nonleague contest. Roberts scored a goal off an assist by Lemons. Tsuji also connected on a penalty kick. Stanton and Evan King shared the shutout.

One of the Eagles’ toughest opponents will be rival Skyline, which could be a title contender this spring.

Spartans veteran squad returns

Skyline has 13 returning players from last season’s team that finished ninth in the 4A KingCo standings.

Among the key returning players are forwards Braxton Griffin and Giancario Santoro, and center midfielder Travis Strawn, midfielders Mitchell Kim and Pedro Miola, and sweeper Ben Molyneux-Elliot.

Kim, a senior, will play at the Air Force Academy this coming fall. In the Spartans’ 6-2 season-opening victory against Redmond March 13, he had three assists.

Other returning players include defender Evan Kamber, midfielder/defender Cole Clearman, defender/midfielder Timothy Kountz, midfielder Kyle Olmstead, defender/midfielder Michael Stoddard and midfielder Austin Crow.

Skyline fought Bellevue to a 1-1 draw March 19. Kim scored an unassisted goal at the 76th minute to get the tie.

“We are recovering from a four-win season and trying to get back to the playoffs,” Skyline coach Don Braman said.

Skyline had reached the playoffs the previous eight years. Six victories this spring would give the program 100.

“We are skilled and talented, but that gets you only so far,” Braman said.

Patriots seek return to playoffs

Liberty went 7-6-3 last season and reached the 3A KingCo tournament, where the Patriots lost to Bellevue in the first round. The Patriots, with seven key returning players, figure to make the playoffs again.

Among the top returning players are all-league defender Dean Byron, forward Kevin Barretto, midfielders Jay Haberman and Cody Sorteberg, defender-forward Matt Filer, forward Mark Loreen and midfielder Blake Kessler. Barretto, Haberman and Sorteberg earned all-KingCo honorable mention last season.

Top newcomers include midfielder Danny Dapper, forward Josh Muttart, midfielder Riley Mackey, forward Hayden Meriweather, midfielder Kramer Janders, goalkeeper Logan Robinson, defender Aaron Potoshnik, defender Zander Lentini and midfielder Alex Velasquez.

Liberty won two nonleague games last week. The Patriots defeated Olympic 2-1 March 19 and topped Auburn Mountainview 1-0 March 18.

Byron scored an unassisted goal at the 74th minute as the Patriots rallied to beat Olympic. Olympic led 1-0 at halftime. Mackey, assisted by Velasquez, tied the score at the 70th minute.

In the victory against Auburn Mountainview, Mackey, assisted by Kessler, scored at the ninth minute.

Bob Taylor: 392-6434, ext. 236, or bobtaylor@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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