Zack Hamer toyed with taking his soccer career in a different direction.
But all along, Mead’s standout senior midfielder was looking for a chance to reunite with his brother Nick at Gonzaga University.
And last week the younger Hamer made sure that reunion would take place when he agreed to accept a partial athletic scholarship from GU and play for the Bulldogs next fall.
“It feels great,” he said. “I thought about going somewhere else, but I pretty much already knew I was going to try to play with Nick again.”
The 5-11, 150-pound Hamer, who has five goals and two assists for the Panthers (6-1 overall, 5-0 in the Greater Spokane League) heading into today’s 6:30 p.m. showdown against host Gonzaga Prep (10-1, 4-1), has played with his older brother since they first became involved in soccer.
“It’s definitely been weird not having him around this year,” Hamer said of Nick, who was named to the West Coast Conference All-Freshman team last fall. “I still see him occasionally, but it’ll be great to be his teammate again next year.”
First-year Mead coach Kevin Houston expects his star midfielder, who was a second-team all GSL pick as a junior last spring, to have an early impact at Gonzaga, much like his older brother did.
“The thing about Zack is that he had just phenomenal technical skills,” Houston said. “His touch with the ball, his ability to hold on to the ball and take on defenders at game speed is incredible.
“He’s definitely got the skills and the tools to play at the D-I level. He’s going to be able to keep up and hold his own right away, and as he grows in the program at Gonzaga, he’s just going to get better and better.”
Hamer was one of six new recruits recently announced by GU coach Einar Thorarinsson.
“We went after the attacking aspects of the game,” Thorarinsson said, “and with this incoming class, I think we have met that need. They are young and untested, but their background indicates they have scoring potential.”
Hamer went to dinner with Thorarinsson and his older brother on his recruiting trip.
“I really liked the campus down there,” he said. “I think it’s a great environment. I know last year was more of a rebuilding year for them, but I think there are a lot of good things to come.”
Knights ‘D’ tough
In nine matches so far this spring, Great Northern League-leading East Valley has allowed only two goals.
The Knights (9-1-1 overall, 8-1 in the GNL) shut out Greater Spokane League power Lewis and Clark 1-0 on Monday and currently boast a goals for/against ratio of 32-3, which is tops among GNL teams.
Both of the goals they have allowed have come on free kicks – and in games in which they were leading 6-0.
“We haven’t given up a goal in regular run of play all year,” EV coach Jeff Paulus said. “That is quite an accomplishment, and a lot of the credit goes to our two senior center fullbacks Ty Tran and Miles Rinne, and our two senior defensive center midfielders Jacob Fitterer and Jon Merkel.”
All of those players, Paulus added, have been competing at the varsity level since they were freshmen.
With only two weeks left in the regular season, the importance of certain Greater Spokane League games becomes clearer. And none is more important this week than Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. showdown between Ferris (8-3, 5-1) and Mead (6-1, 5-0) at Ferris. Ferris, which lost to Mead 2-0 in a nonconference game back in mid-March, has won seven of its last eight and has allowed only three goals during that run. …Gonzaga Prep, which suffered a 3-2 loss – it’s first of the season – against Mt. Spokane last Friday, has outscored its opponents 47-6.
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