Rising to the challenge and trying to reach a higher level.
That’s a vital message first-year Overlake boys soccer coach Scott Lane has brought onto the pitch this season.
And the Owls have taken their coach’s creed and run with it — right back into the 1A state tournament again. Last year, the Owls won the whole thing. With Emerald City League and bi-district crowns already in the bag, the kickers are in a solid spot to make an impact state-wise this month.
The Owls (13-2-2 overall) began their title defense with a 5-0 victory over Columbia on Tuesday night. The locals will next play University Prep at 6 p.m. Saturday at Shoreline Stadium.
“We’ve improved every half we play, every game we play,” said Lane, the ECL coach of the year. “The guys have bought into what we’re trying to do and they’re giving themselves up for the better of the team. So as far as I’m concerned, they’re doing everything we ask.”
Overlake, which finished league play with an 11-0-1 record, is stacked on the defensive end and features three first-team ECL defenders in goalkeeper Luke Brezak — the league most valuable player — Kirby Wetherbee and Joseph Raymond.
“It’s a little surprising, I kind of like it because goalkeepers don’t always get it,” Brezak said of his MVP honor. “I feel whenever a goalkeeper gets recognition, it’s really just due to the entire defense and the entire team, because that doesn’t happen just by one player.”
Forward Esteban Sanchez also earned first-team honors and midfielder Nate Skochdopole made the second team. Lane listed other stellar players as defender Alex Martin, goalkeeper Lucas Rojas and forwards Evan Williams and Rish Rathinam, both of whom join Sanchez in the 11-goal range this season. Skochdopole netted a pair of goals in the Owls’ 3-0 bi-district title win over South Whidbey.
Against Columbia, Williams scored twice and Ben Kummert, Sanchez and Skochdopole all netted one apiece.
Lane praised both Skochdopole and Rathinam for rebounding from injuries to help Overlake blast back into the spotlight.
“One of the things we’ve been saying this year is we have a huge target on our back, all the teams wanna knock us off. We just have to stop them from doing that by just winning, and it’s been working so far,” Brezak said.
Wetherbee, who Lane said is an invaluable leader, stressed to his teammates that their objective is to hoist a state trophy in 2018.
“I think the seniors this year, and then with the juniors as well, we’ve all kind of stepped up and been like, ‘All right, this is our team,’ taking the initiative to push everybody around us to get better and really work for our end goal: winning state again,” Wetherbee said.
* Lane, who took over the reins from 24-year Owl coach Bob Bristol, also assists with the Northwest University women’s team, previously coached the Owl boys junior varsity squad and previously assisted with the Northwest University men’s team. He played ball at Northwest University and Snohomish High School.