Glacier Peak’s new boys soccer coach, Teddy Mitalas, has been around the game long enough to have worked with Grizzlies standout Keegan Rubio and coach Keegan’s dad, Vasco Rubio.
Now coaching Keegan, there’s an undeniable similarity Mitalas sees between the older former professional and the younger GP star.
“Both like to score, and both have that same hard shot,” Mitalas said.
Keegan proved as much last year. Wesco goalkeepers had little success stopping Keegan’s rocket shots or the rest of his scoring arsenal, as he tallied 17 goals and eight assists and helped lead the Grizzlies to a third-place finish in the Class 4A state tournament.
“About 99 percent of (my shot) comes from my dad,” said Keegan, who’s been dribbling a ball around for as long as he can remember. “We’d go kick the ball all the time. My dad would teach me technique, how to plant, how to run up to the ball.”
A soccer lifer with a great mentor, Keegan has developed into a Snohomish County standout. He started the majority of his sophomore year when he recorded six goals and 12 assists, but a growth spurt prior to Keegan’s junior season elevated him 5 inches to 6-foot tall. The added size, combined with his technical skill, has made Keegan one of the top players in both Wesco and the state.
Mitalas previously worked with Keegan when Mitalas was coaching the Greater Seattle Surf Soccer Club team. Mitalas coached U-19, and Keegan, who played U-18, would often train and compete with and against the U-19 squad.
“The nice thing about him is he comes from a soccer family,” Mitalas said of Keegan. “He’s a smart player and knows what to do with the ball and knows where to be when he doesn’t have the ball. He has a great sense of scoring. He is very crafty, and he has good skill.”
Keegan has an innate ability to read defenses. He plays with his head up, is strong with both feet and has great body control. Few defenders can hang with him in the air.
The combination leads to a lethal scoring presence. And because of Keegan’s game-changing ability and feel for the game, Mitalas is entrusting his senior standout with a role bestowed to only a select few.
“He is going to be a free-flowing player,” Mitalas said.
Meaning, Keegan has the luxury to play his game, get around the ball more and manage his time so he can be as effective as possible.
Glacier Peak will need the most of its standout this spring. Although GP still owns a talent-laden roster, the Grizzlies graduated 11 seniors from last year’s club.
While Keegan undoubtedly will be a featured goal-scorer, he’ll also be counted on to distribute and create scoring opportunities for his teammates.
“I have a little more freedom on the field,” Keegan said. “I’m not trapped in one space. I get to sort of do what I want and play my game the way I want to play it. Last year I was mostly scoring goals. While I am still going to look to score, as a team we want to score more goals.”
The thought is that an offense run through Keegan will produce those extra goals.
Although Keegan has only had the joy of watching his father play indoor soccer, Keegan said he’s watched lots of video of his dad playing — Vasco was a member of the Sacramento Knights (1993) and the Seattle Seadogs (1995-96) of the now-defunct Continental Indoor Soccer League — and he enjoys those moments.
It’s fitting, then, that playing alongside his brother, sophomore Hayden Rubio, is top among the things Keegan is most excited about this spring.
And the Glacier Peak star has high aspirations for his final season.
“After these next few months I would hope we have won league, district and state,” Keegan said. “Myself, I would love to score more goals than I had last year and exceed all my stats from last (season).”