Five consecutive state appearances for the Lakewood soccer team, five consecutive years of participation by Brazilian foreign exchange students. Coincidence?
Its kind of weird, yeah, laughed head coach Vaughn Vandalac.
If theres any more to it than chance, Lakewood fans will be relieved to know senior Bernardo Medeiros hails from the football mecca. But for those more interested in talent and experience, Vandalac promises that his team has plenty of those qualities as well.
The team is led by seniors Peter Karrenberg, Andrew Priest and captain Eric Hawks, all of whom have at least two years of varsity experience under their belt. After backing up his sophomore year, Karrenberg returns for his second year as Lakewoods starting goaltender, while Priest and Hawks play the midfield.
The area is a source of strength for the Cougars; the Lakewood midfield also features Craig Hooks and Brian Star, who are back for their junior season.
And in some of the best news for the team, their leading scorer, forward Evander Ochoa, is back from a 16-goal, eight-assist effort in 2007 that saw him named to the Cascade Conferences second team. The junior takes an unselfish approach to scoring I dont have to score, if I can get the assist, thats just as good to me, he said and provides leadership as one of the more veteran members of a young, talented squad hoping to carry on a tradition of excellence.
I tell the guys every year it has been a long tradition of making the playoffs, but pretty much our goal is just to focus on making the state playoffs and not focus so much on league standings, Vandalac said.
Assessing the team in his fourth year as a varsity athlete, Hawks added, It looks good. Were a lot stronger all over the field.
Rounding out the teams modest-sized senior class of four is the newest face, Medeiros. While Vandalac has always seemingly had an athlete come out for his team from the nation famous for its obsession with football, the players have each brought something different to the team.
Vandalac expects another smooth transition to the team, despite the seniors experience coming predominately from the small-ball, five-a-side futsal.
Hes got the skills, so we brought him up to get used to playing 11-a-side, Vandalac said. Bernardo should fit in well, hes a good team player.
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