The Gig Harbor Tides’ boys soccer season ended in heartbreak a year ago, when Federal Way knocked in a goal in the last two minutes of double overtime during the West Central/Southwest bi-district tournament.
Davis McCall, a senior co-captain and center midfielder for this year’s team, won’t soon forget it.
“That sits in the back of our mind every day at practice and keeps us motivated to get farther than we did last year,” McCall said.
The Tides lost eight seniors to graduation, most notably, their captains, forward Bjorne Brynestad and defender Elliott Duea. Brynestad led the Tides with 14 goals.
Still, 11th-year head coach Todd Northstrom is hopeful. He looks at three factors as the strengths of the team: speed, communication and leadership, as well as experience.
“We’re fast,” Northstrom said. “Experience with each other, a lot of these guys have played with each other through the years, either on Harbor FC or Washington Premiere. In terms of core leadership, I think we’re strong. I think the communication is going to be a little better this year than it has been in the past.”
Gig Harbor’s success will come from its defense this season. Matt Stephens, who was an all-Narrows League 4A honorable mention at goalkeeper last year, will enter his senior season as a co-captain.
Stephens is confident and experienced, and he has a simple outlook on the game.
“I want to get the least amount of goals,” he said. “If they don’t go in, we don’t lose.”
The team doesn’t expect to shut out every opponent, but if Stephens can limit the number of goals he surrenders, he thinks the Tides can return to the state tournament.
“We have the ability, we have the brains on the field, we have the skill,” he said. “All we need to do is work together, and we should be a state contender.”
Gig Harbor also returns junior Tanner Stepp, Isaac Northstrom, Jon Browne and Hunter Clarke.
McCall pointed to the team’s chemistry as reason to believe they can return to the postseason.
“We’re feeling it a lot this year, and it’s nice,” he said. “It’s the same guys we’ve played with for a couple years on the team. That’s one of our strengths.”
While the Tides are relatively young, they all have experience at the club level. But playing for different clubs during the offseason and coming together for the high school season doesn’t guarantee success.
“Our chemistry is there, for sure,” Stephens said. “There’s definitely kinks, because we all play for different clubs. As soon as we work that out, there’s nothing that will stop us.”
gig harbor soccer
March 17Shelton5:15 p.m.
March 19at Yelm7 p.m.
March 21at Stadium7:15 p.m.
March 24Olympia5:15 p.m.
March 28at Central Kitsap7:15 p.m.
March 29Sevice (Alaska)1 p.m.
April 2Peninsula5:15 p.m.
April 4Davis (Yakima)5:15 p.m.
April 10South Kitsap5:15 p.m.
April 22Bellarmine Prep5:15 p.m.
April 24Yelm5:15 p.m.
April 28Stadium5:15 p.m.
April 30at Olympia7 p.m.
May 6Central Kitsap7:15 p.m.
May 8at South Kitsap7 p.m.
May 12at Bellarmine Prep5 p.m.Sports reporter Jon Manley can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_jon.