Chris Goodenow / The Weekly Herald
Lynnwood senior goalkeeper Jose Del Rio makes a save during practice March 14 at Lynnwood High School. The Royals return all but two starters from last season's district playoff team. Lynnwood beat Glacier Peak 2-0 on March 15. The Grizzlies eliminated the Royals from districts last year.
The Royals return almost the entire core of a team that advanced to the district tournament in 2011.
Lynnwood, the No. 8 seed, was bounced from the postseason by Glacier Peak, the then defending Class 3A state champions, 6-0. In an indication of the continuing evolution of the program, the Royals defeated the Grizzlies 2-0 in the second game of the season March 15. Junior Boston White scored in the 68th and 72nd minutes.
“This was a huge, key, decisive win for the Royals soccer program,” said Lynnwood head coach Ryan Camden. “The boys had a goal in the beginning of the season to take out one of the top three teams in the league and they were successful. ... This is the focus and dedication I've been hoping would come.
“This is by far the biggest victory for the boys soccer program.”
White is not only one of the returning starters, but he is an example of the type of individuals now playing for Lynnwood.
“He brings a premier club level style of soccer that we need,” Camden said. “By having him on the field and starting every game sends the message to everyone that we need to bring club level soccer style to this game.”
When Camden took over as interim head coach three years ago, only three players were on outside select teams.
In three years the participation of players on outside teams has increased dramatically. “My goal in the offseason was to get these guys on select teams,” Camden said. “I'd say about 90 percent of the guys are on a select premier team this year. It really shows. We noticed at tryouts. They're really following through. They see what the possiblities are.”
The dedication of the Royals also shows through. Three years ago, Lynnwood was lucky to have 12 of its 18 players show up for practice.
“Now we have 18 guys every single day in and day out,” Camden said. “They show up at 2:30 and they leave at 5:30. The guys are starting to believe in what it takes to be a good team.
“The theme this year is ‘believe.' If you can believe in the program and believe in yourselves, you can get your dream of getting to the next level.”
Camden's focus to start out 2012 is defense and the Royals are off to a good start with returning senior goalkeeper Jose Del Rio.
“He's always making brillient saves,” Camden said. “He's one of the smartest players on the field. He reads the game very well.”
Camden's philosophy starts with building a strong defense.
“The No. 1 thing I focus on is the defense,” he said. “We can work to becoming a strong offense.”
Freshman defender Michael McFadden is one of the new faces for the Royals. He'll be the center defender and joins juniors Abubacarr Jadama, Michael Kim and Obiakaraije Esonu to lead what Camden hopes will be a strong defense.
“Having both of those guys (McFadden and Jadama) in the middle creates the leadership we need for the middle of the field,” Camden said. “We have quick outside defenders, so we're surrounded with great talent in the back four.”
The other newcomer is sophomore Ousman Faye, who brings versatility to midfield.
“You rarely see on any high school teams a player who can shoot the ball with both feet,” Camden said. “He's extremely fast. ... He's an up and coming guy to watch out for.”
Shifting from the midfield to up front is junior Momodou Drammeh. Camden expects that Drammeh will help to create scoring opportunities for the Royals. He brings a lot of speed to the offensive attack.
“His shot is very powerful,” Camden said. “He sets people up for goals. He's a playmaker up front. At Lynnwood we haven't seen that in a couple of years since we've been building up the program.”
The Royals' lineup has good speed. At tryouts, the coaches timed the players in some 40- and 100-yard dashes. The times were such that if the players weren't on the soccer team, they would be prime candidates for track, Camden said.
Lynnwood continues to have a diverse team with players from many different countries. The goal is to bring everyone under a common thread.
“We're trying to get everybody together and not be separated,” Camden said. “No matter where you're from and with all having different philosphies of style, we want to play Lynnwood boys soccer. We want to create the unit.”