Talk about riding a streak into state.
It has been almost two months since the Lakeside Eagles didn’t win – and that was a 0-0 tie against 3A opponent Shadle Park in the opening game of the season.
After coasting to an 15-0-1 record, the Eagles find themselves in the first round of the 1A state tournament against the Royal Knights on Tuesday at Sunset Chevrolet Stadium in Sumner. The Knights finished 11-3-2.
First-year head coach Andrew Hackett’s experienced squad – nine of the 11 starters are seniors – has been firing on all cylinders since the game against the Highlanders, outscoring their opponents 102-8.
The Eagles’ impressive season resulted in four all-league selections, both league MVPs and coach of the year.
The Knights are an experienced team as well, and they boast more height than the Eagles. Hackett wants to see his players stick together and play as a team. If they can get their shots on target he feels confident in their chances.
They need to push the Knights into their own half and make them chase the ball. They want to tire the team out with every pass and out-technique them.
“We definitely are possession oriented. We keep the ball from everyone else,” Hackett said.
Lakeside has a lot of playmakers, but Jeff Friedman makes them tick. He signed his letter of intent to play soccer at George Fox University next year, but he also is a state champion wrestler.
“Jeff is amazing,” Hackett said. “First and foremost he’s a Christian athlete, he is centered in some type of Christianity that helps him out. He also is really responsible, it’s almost like having an assistant coach out there.
“He acts like an adult most times. Again, you don’t have to get after him to work out or eat right. He already is disciplined, that’s his nature.”
But the key lies in his seniors.
“The main thing is that the core of our seniors have been together and have played club together for years,” Hackett said. “They get a feel for each other and that has been really helpful for us. It is a unique team in such that we are loaded with seniors.”
But future Lakeside teams won’t be left in the dust with all of the eventual graduations.
The lack of a junior varsity team was a worry for Hackett when the season started – a small turnout didn’t allow for second team. But because the Eagles have been so dominant, underclassmen have seen the field more often than Hackett was expecting.
They also have four players who are being recruited or signed their letters of intent for college soccer which is a strong number for a 1A school.
“We have really a good thing happening here at Lakeside as far as the boys and girls soccer programs, so we’d like to keep that thing going and I think it will just build from here,” Hackett said.
“Whatever we get out of this, I think that the seniors we have have really paved a good path for the rest of the kids coming up through Lakeside.”
Ferris (16-2-0) knocked off Pasco (13-4-0) 1-0 in the District 8 4A championship game on Saturday at Edgar Brown Stadium as Jadon Bowton made seven saves in regulation and two more in a shootout.
The Saxons open up state play at home on Wednesday as they host Auburn Mountainview (9-6-3) in a first-round match at 5 p.m.
Gonzaga Prep (11-9-0), which entered district play as the eighth seed in the tournament, eliminated second-seeded Central Valley (12-3-0) 4-3 in the third-place game as JD Layman in overtime to earn a trip to state.
The Bullpups travel to Federal Way (16-3-0) for a first-round match on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
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