Playing without its motivational leader, The Bear Creek boys soccer team handled a tough King’s West squad with ease on Tuesday in a Sea-Tac 2B League contest at Owens Field, shutting out the Warriors 3-0.
Both teams played a tough, physical brand of soccer. Players were not afraid to slide tackle in an effort to gain control of the ball. In the end, it was the staunch Bear Creek defense that won out, as the Grizzlies allowed only two shots on goal during the whole game.
“There was no fancy game plan, just go out there and play with heart, outwork the other team,” said Bear Creek head coach Chad Pohlman. “Ultimately that’s what we want to be known for anyways. We want to be the hardest-working team.”
On Senior Night, the Grizzlies’ lone active senior, Jin Ihn, scored his third goal of the season – which was assisted by Mark Phillips – pounding the ball into the back right of the net with nine minutes left to play.
Junior midfielder Dillon Camp opened up the scoring early in the second half off a pass from sophomore Tom Postings. Ryan Strandin scored his league-leading 15th goal of the season in the 62nd minute.
LOSING A LEADER
Bear Creek senior Michael Castle was selected as team captain by Pohlman for many reasons– his leadership qualities, relentless effort on the field and his ability to rally his teammates.
Grizzly soccer fans were devastated last Friday when Castle went in hard on a tackle and shattered the femur bone in his upper leg in a 4-1 loss to Tacoma Baptist.
He was going to be taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, but they had too many traumatic injuries, so his season-ending surgery was performed at Bellevue’s Overlake Hospital, where a steel plate and nine screws were inserted into his leg.
“Michael was the hardest worker on this team. He was our leader, an emotional and physical leader,” said Pohlman, who is also Bear Creek’s Athletic Director. “He was always just playing to the highest potential … when you lose someone like that, someone your teammates are constantly looking at as their leader, everyone just has to take a second and say, ‘Uh oh, what’s going to happen now?’
“It will be a while before he can even walk again.”
Before the game, Pohlman spoke to his shorthanded team and emphasized the fact that everyone had to step up to fill the gaping holes in the lineup.
“Obviously losing (Michael) was big, but we also have two other starters that are out,” Pohlman said. “We were going in down a few guys in a really important game, so the message is that everyone’s got to pick it up. Everyone has got to play harder, go out there and give more than what they’re used to giving, and they did that.”
The Bear Creek boys soccer team, although they’re hurting, are having an outstanding season with a 9-2-0 record in league play and 12-2-0 overall as of the Reporter’s Thursday deadline. The Grizzlies will probably finish second in the Sea-Tac 2B League behind Tacoma Baptist, which only has one loss.
A long-term goal for the Grizzlies is to improve upon last year’s finish of fourth at the state tournament, but for now, Pohlman prefers to take a day-to-day approach to the season.
“I always tell the guys, we take it one game at a time. We look at our next opponent, and say ‘We need to beat that team,’” Pohlman said. “At the end of the day, our goal is always to end the season on a win, and the only way you can do that is to go on and win the state championship, but that’s why we’re out here. One of our themes is not to settle for anything less.”
Although the players themselves were undoubtedly crushed with the loss of Castle, who sat on the sidelines watching Tuesday’s game from his wheelchair, the general morale of the playoff-bound Grizzlies is still at a high level.
“It was really tough losing Michael,” said Strandin. “I think we have a shot in the playoffs, but we’ll have to go in playing hard and hope for the best.”