The Peninsula Seahawks boys soccer team finished fifth in the Class 3A South Puget Sound League last year, just out of reach of the postseason. Head coach Brian Lawson expects better results in his second year.
“We have aspirations to be in the top four,” Lawson said. “Obviously, top three would be wonderful. We fell short of expectations last year, and this year we have our sights set on making the playoffs and going as far as we can.”
Peninsula lost Matt Myers, Nate Jackson and Donovan Hobson to graduation but will return senior captains Noah Hanks and David Rodriguez.
Hanks, a forward, said the team was plagued by off-field issues last year, and it’s been a point of emphasis to eliminate them this spring.
“It’s all about sportsmanship (this season),” Hanks said. “We had bad things happen off the field last year. So we want to keep track on what we’re doing and just always work hard. The school has really enforced it, the coach has really enforced it a lot, and especially the players that were on the team last year know, so we’re really pushing it on the younger guys to know, ‘You have a commitment to the team, and you gotta stick to it.’ ”
With a relatively small senior class — only three on the varsity squad — and several talented underclassmen, the Seahawks hope to change the culture and grow as a team.
Despite their youth, Lawson thinks his team can have success because of their work ethic and commitment to the game.
“They’re hard workers,” he said. “We’re going to be very young, but at the same time, we have a stellar group of young players. Our freshman class is phenomenal this year. They are hard, hard workers. They’re very intelligent soccer players, and, paired with that hard work, we’re going to be successful.”
Hanks, a second-team all-league selection last season, is aiming for first-team honors this year.
“If I can go second team, then I can surely go first team,” he said.
Hanks and Rodriguez will lead the group that will have to step up in a hurry.
“We should be able to use them (the underclassmen) and their playing ability, because most of them played club,” Hanks said. “We just have to be able to play strong and big, because they’re going to be playing guys who are older than them, but I’m really excited for this year.”
Rodriguez has his sights set higher than just competing for a league title.
“We just gotta shape up,” he said. “I want to see us get to the state championship, and I want us to win this whole thing.”
Rodriguez said he believes the team’s youth will only contribute to their success.
“It’s going to be a good year because all the young players have a lot of talent,” he said. “We have a lot of young people that can move the ball. We’re mainly a midfield team, so I think, with the ball movement skills that we have, we can get the teams running and get them frustrated.”
Lawson said the team is doing the little things right so far this year.
“I think it’s their commitment to daily improvement,” he said. “I think it’s their coach-ability. They respond well. If I ask them to do something, it gets done. It’s their accountability as a team, too. They hold one another accountable. They look to one another to meet those expectations.”
March 17Fife7:15 p.m.
March 19at Tyee7:30 p.m.
March 21at Central Kitsap7 p.m.
March 24South Kitsap7:15 p.m.
April 2at Gig Harbor5:15 p.m.
April 7Decatur7:15 p.m.
April 9Lakes7:15 p.m.
April 14at Enumclaw7 p.m.
April 16at Bonney Lake7 p.m.
April 21Auburn Mountainview7:15 p.m.
April 23at Decatur7 p.m.
April 28at Lakes7 p.m.
April 30Enumclaw7:15 p.m.
May 5Bonney Lake7:15 p.m.
May 7at Auburn Mountainview7 p.m.Sports reporter Jon Manley can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at email@example.com