By Oliver Lazenby
After a successful season, sports coaches can often expect excitement surrounding their sport to bring more athletes into the program the following year. For Blaine High School boys soccer, it didn’t work out that way.
Though Blaine soccer had its first winning season in a decade last year, finishing with a 7–6–3 record overall and earning a trip to the playoffs, only 16 came out for soccer this spring. That’s not even enough to have a junior varsity team.
“Why? That’s been my question to myself and my team for the last week,” head coach Gio Quesada said. “It’s a cycle. There was a generation of soccer players and they graduated. I’m OK with that. That’s high school life.”
That will make this season an uphill battle, and a chance to rebuild. Of the returning athletes, six are seniors: Bryce Kamrath, Alex Mercado, Nicholas Wheaton, Michael Hayes, Danyil Tkachov and Brittain Solomon. Solomon played backup goalkeeper last year and will be Blaine’s full-time goalie this year.
That’s more than half the field, and those seniors all contributed to Blaine’s success last year. But to win games this season, they’ll need to mesh with the new players; freshmen make up nearly one third of the team.
To do that, Quesada stresses communication.
“When ever you have a lot of new players you need to blend everyone together. I think communications will be key – working together, moving together.” Quesada said. “And effort: when you’re new and you lose some games and get down, that’s when the older guys come in and say ‘come on dude, let’s keep going.’”
With communication, effort and a focus on defense, Quesada expects his small team will win some games and be competitive.
Blaine soccer plays its first game at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 12, against Ferndale at Phillips 66 Soccer Park. The team’s first home game is at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, March 18 against Anacortes.