The final buzzer has sounded on the basketball season, and spring sports are upon us. We start previewing the spring season with a look at the six Narrows League boys soccer teams in Tacoma.
The Tigers have much to replace off last year’s state-tournament squad, but still have their sights set high under second-year head coach Adam Becker.
Gone are dazzling forwards Max Harvey and Andrew Foreman and playmaking midfielder Jacob Beardemphl, but junior forward Gabe Castillo returns and is a breakout candidate after some solid performances last season. Senior defenders Austin Yon and Tyler Swenddal should shore up the back line, but all-league junior defender Bryce Ikeda will not play as he trains with the Sounders Academy. Becker noted that junior Hunter Hwang should make an impact either as a forward or midfielder.
“I’m looking at a little different of a formation, something that will fit these kids really well,” Becker said.
“I’m confident,” he added of the Tigers’ chances. “I want to win the Narrows League every year.”
The Lions are looking to continue to mature, having just missed out on a playoff spot last year, but still feature a relatively young squad.
Senior midfielder Drew Barker – who finished with 11 goals and 10 assists last year – returns to lead the attack.
“He’s a terrific player, a very exciting player,” said Bellarmine Prep head coach Joe Waters. “He can change the game in a split second.”
Senior Eric Musica and junior Brendan Hartley will also contribute up front, and senior Chase Racquer and junior Dacin Titus will fill in in the middle. The Lions’ defense will be young – as junior Connor Thompson is training with the Sounders Academy – but sophomore Ryan Clarke is promising.
The Rams will look to build off of their appearance in the state tournament last year, as they return nearly their entire lineup plus a key piece who was absent last year.
Narrows 3A co-MVP Oswald Ramos, who struck for 11 goals last year, will again be a solid threat up front. Junior midfielder Evan Pichette – who trained with Crossfire Academy last year – returns to provide more punch in the middle, and speedy junior midfielder Munassar Saleh is a crafty scorer and distributor. Senior forward Stephen Osgood and junior Aarjay Narayan add to the Rams’ firepower, and head coach Jason Gjertsen expects keeper Alec Greenleaf, midfielder Pablo Ramos and defender Nick Rhode to contribute as well.
“Last year we were good but we didn’t really have depth off the bench,” said Gjertsen, noting the Rams have around 15 players who are capable of starting. “Our expectations are a little bit higher this year.”
The Falcons graduated star midfielder Pablo Santos – the other half of the Narrows 3A co-MVP award – but the excitement and depth continue to grow as they aim to return to the playoffs.
“I think this is going to be a better overall team year,” said head coach Mark Kramer, noting a much larger turnout at tryouts. “It’s going to be more of a balanced attack…theire level of commitment is high, and their expectations are even higher.”
Senior all-league midfielder Rene Ramos returns to guide Foss’ attack, and junior forward Jesus Perez is poised to break out at striker. Sophomore Jordon Ramirez is another strong threat up front, junior defender Oliver Mogollan steps in as a leader on the back line, and junior keeper Sergio Barajas is a solid last line of defense.
The Thunderbirds’ rise to claim a playoff spot last spring has helped elevate the level of competition in the Narrows 3A, and they have high hopes again this year.
“I think our biggest goal is to make sure last year wasn’t a flash in the pan,” said head coach Scott Nelson. “We might not have the ability to (finish first), but we have the ability to establish ourselves as a strong team in this division.”
Graduated forward Brian Wambaa will be hard to replace, but the other half of the T-Birds’ speedy one-two punch up front, senior Ian Karanja, returns to provide pace and touch at forward. Senior center midfielder Cesar Ramirez is a key piece to the attack, and junior Anthony Garibaldi is a playmaker in the middle as well. Senior defender Jorge Trejo and junior defender Tony Nguyen will lead the back line.
Abes head coach Monte Gibbs is focusing on the finishing touch early this season, as Lincoln hopes to be able to keep pace with the other potent offenses in the league.
“We’ve been known as a defensive team, we’ve been known as a passing team,” Gibbs said. “I’d really like to see us be able to finish this year. That’s been our Achilles heel.”
Senior Philip Gyamfi should be a focus of the attack at midfielder or forward, and Gibbs noted that Spanish exchange student David Vazquez-Pinol is a promising midfielder that will contribute. Junior Angel Zuniga should lead the Abes’ defenders, and sophomore Simon Capilla should step in at goalkeeper.