The men’s soccer season this year was called successful, yet, according to Head Coach Mark Lee, next season will be one to get excited about.
During Lee’s first year as head coach, his first game started with a win over Tacoma Community College.
His last game, a playoff game against Columbia Basin, ended in a hard-fought 5-3 loss.
The Raiders are ready to put that game behind them and focus on next season.
“We came out after traveling the night before,” Lee said. “We gave up a few early goals and had some unfortunate calls go the other way. But we never gave up and got a few goals ourselves. In the end, it wasn’t enough.”
The season was successful despite being eliminated from the playoffs. The team ended league play with a record of 6-7 and had an overall record of 8-10.
“We came out young with just a couple of returning players,” Lee said. “I am proud of our team. It was a really impressive season.”
Lee expects his current freshman players to make an impact next season, particularly goalkeeper Jayson Stam and players Joel Carillo (midfielder), Gilberto Garcia (midfielder), Christian Rath (midfielder/forward), Matthew Solis (midfielder/forward) and Jay Williams (forward).
“We are losing some experienced guys, but we think we will be just as strong if not stronger this upcoming season,” Lee said. “Sophomore year is a learning stage for these guys, so there is a lot to look forward to.”
The Raiders’ top three goalscorers—Solis, Williams and Carillo—are all returning next season. In the midfield, the team will lose the experience of co-captain Tommy Finseth along with Alex Cacciola and Drew Sadowsky. Balls still should make it to the back of the net next year through Solis, Williams, Carillo and other returning players, according to Lee.
The biggest loss may be found at the other end of the field.
The Raiders are losing Jonathan Rodriguez and co-captain Chris Warner, two key players in defense, along with starting goalkeeper Andrew Anderson.
The freshman defenders are expected to fill that missing gap.
“My first year was good,” Lee said. “I was nervous coming into it, but I had lots of help and support. I learned a lot this year and I know what to do differently next year. We were unlucky not to continue, but this was a good learning time for us as a team.”
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