By Jon Saperstein Herald Writer
Snohomish, F, Sr.
Coach Dan Pingrey isn’t shy when talking about one of his captains. “Juan Machuca is someone to really watch. He’s an extremely talented player,” Pingrey said.
Last year Machuca was one of the few non-seniors honored with a Wesco 4A first-team award. The year before he was one of the Panthers’ leading scorers, a year removed from being a starter on a very good Glacier Peak team at the 3A level as a freshman before he moved. His experience will be a big part of whether the Panthers return to the state tournament again in 2013.
“He’s primed for a big year,” Pingrey said. “Looking at getting in (at a) community college. He has the talent to play at a higher level. He will have a big impact on the league this year.”
Arlington, MF, Jr.
Aune comes from a soccer family. His father played soccer at the University of Washington and has been a coach himself an his brother, Nathan, was selected to play for the Crossfire Academy and thus can’t participate for the Eagles this year. But Arlington coach Mike Gudgeon is very thankful to have Brendan leading the way for his team.
“He’s just a kid that we can plug in anywhere,” Gudgeon said. “As a sophomore he played defense for us. I’ve plugged him in as a center-mid. Even on occasion put him up as a forward.
“He’s just one of those great utility players that is able and willing to do whatever the team needs him to do. That’s also what makes him a great team captain. He leads by example and will do what we need him to do.”
If Arlington is able to break into the top three in Wesco North and advance to the district playoffs it will likely be largely thanks to Aune.
Lake Stevens, MF, Sr.
It’s hard to pick one player to watch from the Lake Stevens boys because they play as a unit as much as any local team. Coach Kit Shanholtzer has continued with the Vikings system that has been in place for a decade and propelled the team to success, including a surprise trip to the 4A state quarterfinals last season. Erickson is a big part of that system.
“John Erickson is going to command the middle,” Shanholtzer said of one of the Vikings’ 13 seniors.
But don’t be surprised at the end of the season if Erickson doesn’t stand out from Ahin Ali, Blake Sanders or Marcus Edward, who all will make an impact for the team that doesn’t feature an underclassmen.
“We have an offensive and defensive system of play that is very inconsistent with other soccer programs,”Shanholtzer said. “It’s something that we developed over the last 10 years. The systems approach helps players of all levels, I think, play together.”
Archbishop Murphy, MF, Sr.
A third of the way into the season a year ago, Crisler was the leading scorer on a very good Wildcat team before he rolled his ankle and missed most of the remainder of the season. He is the older brother of one of the best local girls players, Calisse Crisler, who also plays for the Wildcats. Both are attracting attention from college programs according to their mutual high school coach Mike Bartley. Jalen is one of the Wildcats senior captains and is poised to make a serious impact this season.
“There’s big things he’s trying to do because he felt like he missed a lot last year,” Bartley said. “He didn’t get the recognition. He’s a tall, strong kid. He can play center back and he can play forward…he’s almost 6’5” and great in the air” Both Jalen and Calisse can score but Bartley says as that Jalen separates himself by his strength on defense.
Mountlake Terrace, MF, Sr.
The Wesco 3A south league has been brutally competitive recently with Glacier Peak, Shorewood and Shorecrest all taking turns dominating during recent seasons. Hope for a new team breaking that grip among the top may come from Mitalas. The son of a high school soccer coach, Mitalas will be a big reason why the Hawks succeed this year.
“The game will be going through him,” Terrace coach Gary Hunter said. “His biggest strength is his knowledge of the game and his technical passing skills. He has excellent technical passing ability.”
Last year was Hunter and his staff’s first year with the Hawks and though they experienced some growing pains are ready to challenge in year number two. “Wesco South is tough,” Hunter said. “So we are just going to try and get in the middle of it and see where we’ll be by the end of the season. It’s a difficult and challenging conference to be in but the kids are optimistic.”