Overlake boys' soccer team: Consistent and clutch | Reporter Team of the Year
July 5, 2012 · 3:30 PM
Powered with tight team chemistry, technically skilled players and strong senior leadership, The Overlake School boys’ soccer team marched through the 2012 season with an undefeated record, capped by a Class 1A state title — the program’s first since 1996.
“What I will remember most is that in 2012 we were the best team in the state,” said Overlake boys’ head soccer coach Bob Bristol. “I am convinced that in every game we played better soccer and were the better team and that there was never a need for excuses. It rarely happens that way.”
Led by a group of nine seniors, the Owls finished the season with a 19-0-1 record, which included two penalty-kick shootout wins in the state semifinals and finals.
The Owls entered the season with high hopes and they delivered when it matter most. For its consistent and clutch play, The Overlake School boys’ soccer team is the Redmond Reporter’s 2011-12 Team of the Year.
For the senior-laden Owls, it was a season of redemption that was capped with emotion — and relief.
Many of those seniors played as sophomores on the 2010 Overlake team, which fell short in the state-title game. But this last season, those seniors got redemption and the sweet taste of a championship.
“It was unreal,” said senior defender Joe Dolack of his feelings after winning the state title. “It took a while to sink in that we had finally done it. It was an amazing feeling.”
Bristol fought back tears as he addressed his team after the Owls sealed the title win and dedicated the season to his ailing father, Michael, who lives in Pennsylvania and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January.
“We were so close that one time (in 2010),” Dolack said. “Having had the experience of losing, none of us wanted that feeling again. I was so happy for Bob.”
The emotional state-title win did not come easy as two of Overlake’s starting seniors — Jesse Klug and Rohan Kumar — were feeling ill and not at full strength against a strong Chelan team.
But the team rallied around its sick stars with a suffocating defense, led by Dolack and junior Mack Hewitt, and clutch scoring in the penalty-kick shootout to pull out the win.
Klug, who chose to play for his high school team this year after skipping his junior season to train with the Sounders FC Academy, fittingly hit the victory-sealing penalty kick in the state championship game.
Klug said the decision to forgo training with the Sounders and play for his high school team was “pretty simple.”
“It was my last chance to play high school and I really wanted to do it,” he said. “It’s a team I’m really close to and this was going to be the last time I played with them.”
Klug, who will play Bucknell University next fall, made the most of his last season at Overlake, scoring a school-record 39 goals and collecting 15 assists. But as Klug pointed out, all of his goals were the result of great team play.
Senior Gavin MacKinlay was also a scoring force for the Owls with 15 goals. Senior midfielder Dean Poplawski was a big contributor with eight goals and 11 assists during the season. In addition, Poplawski played goalkeeper during the two shootout wins in the semifinals and finals to help the Owls earn the championship win. Klug, Poplawski, Dolack and Hewitt all earned first-team, all-state honors for Class 1A.
But the unsung hero of the team was the defensive unit, according to Bristol. Dolack and Hewitt, along with senior defender Tyler Reichenadter and freshman James Corbett, had to learn a new defensive system and helped the Owls earn 11 shutouts during the season.
“In the finals, in particular, they just shut down the opponent’s dangerous players, were first to the ball and at the same time were important to our attack,” Bristol said.
The championship buzz continues in the community as Klug, Dolack and MacKinlay will go on to play college at the next level. Klug is now playing for North Sound SeaWolves, a developmental soccer league team in Everett, before heading to Bucknell in August. Dolack will play soccer at Chapman University, a Division III school in California and MacKinlay will attend McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where he will also play soccer, Bristol said.
Bristol said the 2012 team was one of the most-skilled team he had ever coached. That high-level of skill, along with great senior leadership, created a strong sense of team chemistry that ultimately launched the Owls to the state title, Dolack said.
“It was really fun having a lot of seniors on the team,” Dolack said. “It was great having friends at practice. We had a lot of fun, but we got a lot of work done too.”