Eagles’ Jason Lichtenberger named coach of the year

May 31, 2011

By Bob Taylor

Jason Lichtenberger

Some of his 4A KingCo Conference peers thought this would be a rebuilding year for Issaquah High School boys soccer coach Jason Lichtenberger. After all, eight starters graduated from the 2010 team.

But Lichtenberger believed the Eagles had enough talent to challenge the upper echelon this season. By the end of the season, his peers realized Lichtenberger was right in his assessment of the Issaquah team.

Issaquah, for the third straight year, reached the league tournament. The Eagles posted a 12-3-3 overall record and were 7-2-1 in conference play. Issaquah took third place and finished just three points behind co-leaders Eastlake and Skyline.

For his efforts, KingCo coaches selected Lichtenberger as the Coach of the Year.

“It was a great honor for me,” Lichtenberger said. “I am also very humbled by it. There are so many great coaches in the league. It is always nice to be recognized by your peers.”

Lichtenberger said the award was “really a reward for our team.”

“I just have the honor for having my name put on the award,” he said, “But really, this was a team award. I think we had a season a lot of people did not expect, by staying in contention for the league title. Our team had big expectations and worked hard.”

After years of often being one of the league’s second-division teams, the Eagles have been rolling under Lichtenberger’s guidance. Three years ago, he directed the team to the state tournament for the first time in the program’s history.

Lichtenberger said he was pleased that some of his players were recognized for post-season awards, too.

Goalkeeper Nathan King and midfielder Michael Roberts, both seniors, and forward Alex Shane, a sophomore, were selected for the all-league first team.

“These three guys had some fantastic performances for us this season,” Lichtenberger said. “They were very deserving of their honor. They really catalyzed the season we had, not just in games but day in and day out in practice. They kept up the intensity for us. ”

King had three shutouts this season.

“He was exceptional in goal this year. Almost every game we won he made a game-saving save,” Lichtenberger said.

Roberts and Shane were a potent scoring punch for the Eagles. They finished among the league’s top five scorers.

Shane tied for third in scoring with 38 points. He had 15 goals and eight assists.

“What he did this season as a sophomore was remarkable. It one was of the greatest statistical seasons in the history of our program,” Lichtenberger said. “He is a phenomenal athlete with a great leg. He scored four or five goals on free kicks from 30 yards out.”

Roberts finished just a point behind Shane in league scoring with 37 points. He scored 12 goals and had 13 assists.

“No player did more for his team than Michael Roberts,” Lichtenberger said. “I can’t say enough for what he did for us the past two years. He has always been one of the best players on the field for us, and really set the tone for us at the beginning of the season.”

Despite becoming a marked man, Roberts found ways to score.

“He was so crafty. Often he had to go through two or three guys, but he would find a seam and find the corner of the goal,” Lichtenberger said.

Five other Eagles received post-season honors. Defender Cory Jenneskens, a senior, was selected to the second team. Ryan Higgins, Akash Ramachandran, Nick Smith and Taylor Wyman received honorable mention.

Garfield’s Aaron Kovar, a midfielder, was selected as the league’s player of the year. He led KingCo in scoring with 45 points.

Spartans are named to first team

Midfielder Travis Strawn and forward Braxton Griffin, who helped spark Skyline to the 4A state tournament finals, were named to the 4A KingCo first team. Teammate Jake Bechtel, a midfielder, earned second-team honors.

Travis Burns, Kyle Olmstead, Steven Pankiewicz and Mikey Stoddard received honorable mention.

Patriots receive first-team recognition

Three members of the Liberty boys soccer team were selected to the 3A/2A KingCo first team.

Earning top honors were defenders Joe Dapper and Jared Bales, both sophomores, and midfielder Blake Kessler, a senior.

Midfielder Alex Velasquez, a senior, was named to the second team.

Danny Dapper, Oliver Janders, Riley Mackey and Josh Muttart received honorable mention.

Nick Rooney, of Sammamish, and Eric Baumgardner, of Mount Si, were selected as the league’s co-most valuable players.

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