Issaquah jostles for first in boys 4A soccer logjam

April 19, 2011

Jason Lichtenberger might be the Nostradamus of 4A KingCo Conference boys soccer. Entering the season the Issaquah High School boys coach predicted it would be another close race for the top spot in the standings.

Lichtenberger’s crystal ball is as clear as ever. Entering this week four teams, including Issaquah, were tied for first place. Two other teams were just three points out of first place.

These traffic jams are getting common in 4A KingCo soccer. When last season’s league play ended, three teams tied for first place and two were just one point behind the leaders.

“I knew it was going to be tight this season,” Lichtenberger said. “I knew Skyline was going to be real strong, and that Newport, Eastlake and Garfield would be real good. So it’s not surprising that it’s close at the top.”

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Junpei Tsuji’s leadership earns player of the year honors

June 1, 2010

A soccer player doesn’t always have to score a ton of goals to get noticed by opposing players and coaches.

Junpei Tsuji

Sometimes, just his leadership qualities on the field are enough to earn praise. Certainly, 4A KingCo Conference coaches were impressed by Issaquah High School senior Junpei Tsuji’s inspired efforts this spring.

While Tsuji was a scoring threat, it was his leadership that led to his selection as the league’s Player of the Year.

“When you consider all the outstanding players in the league, this was a great honor for Junpei and great recognition for our program,” said Issaquah coach Jason Lichtenberger. “I think he was probably surprised by the honor.

“Yet, when coaches talked about a player who played hard in every game, Junpei was the guy they talked about,” he added. “They said what a great leader he was on the field. Junpei was always encouraging his teammates.”

Tsuji, a midfielder, helped the Eagles be a contender for the league title this season. Issaquah finished just one point out of first place.

“He is a talented player. He makes a lot of things happen. He does a good job of getting the ball to his teammates. More than anything, he just worked his tail off for 80 minutes in every game,”

Lichtenberger said.

In practice, teammates always compared their shirts to see who worked the hardest.

“Junpei always had the sweatiest shirt,” Lichtenberger said.

Tsuji is bound for Whitman College, where he will play soccer with Issaquah teammate Mike Axelson next year.

Issaquah, with back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in several years, has had the league’s MVP the last two years. Quinn Grisham, a senior, was selected as the league MVP last year. Grisham, despite missing some games this season because of injuries and illness, joined Tsuji on the all-KingCo first team. Read more

Eagles flight path to playoffs halted by Wolves, 8-0

May 18, 2010

The Issaquah Eagles had high hopes going into the KingCo playoffs. In its final six games, the team had gone 4-0-2 and, despite lacking standout players Lucas Morais and Quinn Grisham, seemed ready to take on Eastlake for the third-place game May 11.

But the Eastlake Wolves, which had won three straight, hit the field running and won 3-0 at Memorial Stadium in Seattle.

The win put Eastlake in third place in the KingCo 4A rankings and ended Issaquah’s season.

“They did a great job rising to the occasion, and putting together a nice season,” Issaquah head coach Jason Lichtenberger said. “We went down fighting.”

Although they showed some resilience in the second half, the Eagles struggled out of the gate. Eastlake’s Renato Bandeira scored the first goal of the game in the fifth minute and helped the Wolves control the tempo and poke holes in the Issaquah defense.

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Issaquah looks to improve 2009’s surprise success

March 23, 2010

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. Read more

Issaquah drops season opener

March 16, 2010

Alex Shane (7), Issaquah freshman forward, fights Newport team co-captain Brian Whitney for possession during the first period of their non-league soccer tournament match March 13 at Sammamish High School. The Knights won, 2-0. By Greg Farrar

The Issaquah High School boys soccer team discovered March 13 that it will have to work a little harder to duplicate last year’s success.

Issaquah was one of the best stories in the state last spring, with the team going from rags to riches. The Eagles improved by 10 wins over the previous season and reached the state tournament for the first time.

However, in their season-opener, the Eagles made two huge defensive blunders that led to a 2-0 loss to Newport in a nonleague game at Sammamish High School.

“Newport is a very good team, but I thought we came out sluggish. We didn’t execute our game plan, and we didn’t do a good job of defense on two corner kicks by Newport,” Issaquah coach Jason Lichtenberger said.

Both Newport goals came off corner kicks.

“We discovered we have a lot of work to do,” Lichtenberger said. “But I believe we have a talented team, and it’s a team that has set some big goals for this season.”

In other action, Skyline defeated Redmond 6-2 while Liberty lost to Roosevelt 2-1. Read more