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Five things to watch in high-school boys soccer
Seattle Christian senior forward Grant Fremmerlid is the best player most people don't know about.
Special to The Seattle Times
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1 The best player people don't know about.
Seattle Christian senior forward Grant Fremmerlid, who plans to walk on at Seattle University in the fall, gives the Class 1A Warriors top-line talent. Fremmerlid, a resident of Maple Valley who travels to the SeaTac school daily, has 60 career goals and 33 assists for 153 points.
He has had at least one goal or one assist in 33 consecutive Nisqually League matches.
Fremmerlid already had 12 goals and six assists through March 29, leading the Warriors to a 7-0-0 start. He was named Nisqually League MVP in 2012 after notching 28 goals and 10 assists and it was his second season on the all-league first team.
Seattle Christian coach David Peters calls him "incredibly fast. He's probably the fastest high-school player I've ever seen. If there's a long play, there's no doubt he's going to beat his mark, usually by many yards.
"His leap for a guy 5-9 is incredible. He's got half of his goals on headers this year."
His fraternal twin brother, Conner, is Seattle Christian's goalkeeper. Conner, likely to play at Northwest University in Kirkland next fall, registered nine shutouts in 2012 as the Warriors finished 14-3-1 after bowing out 3-1 to Royal in the 1A state semifinals.
Conner, one of seven returning starters, already has four shutouts this season and allowed just three goals while his team has tallied 32 times in seven matches.
Add senior defender Austin Baucom, who already has eight assists, and the road looks paved to playoff success for the Warriors. Seattle Christian has won four state titles in boys soccer, the last in 2001.
"That's our goal this year, the big trophy, and we're hoping to bring it back," said Peters, the second-year coach.
2 Different offramp for Jefferson at state?
With many key returners and a strong nucleus, Jefferson could be the team to beat in 4A. But the Raiders must figure out how to get out of the first round of the playoffs. Jefferson has reached state four of the last five seasons, and in each trip, they exited with a first-round loss, including the last three.
"I thought a state champion was going to come out of our division last year, and in the eight years I've been here, I would've thought we'd get there two or three times," Jefferson coach Dave Hanson said. "We've had some talent, but we just didn't execute in the playoffs."
The SPSL North Raiders could have a tough enough time exiting district play with Federal Way looming in the SPSL South.
"If there were state rankings, I would say that both us and Federal Way would be in the top five," Hanson said. "I don't know if it's the most talented team I've had. Federal Way's damn close. On any given day, they could beat us.
"But I haven't seen anyone better than us. I don't think there's anyone better in the North."
3 Islanders try to keep magic going.
Former Mercer Island player Colin Rigby, 28, is trying to recreate the magic coach Steve Newman brought to the Islanders before he died last Oct. 12 of cardiac arrest. The Islanders were 3A state runners-up under Newman last year.
Rigby, a 2003 Mercer Island graduate, is now head coach after playing and coaching under Newman.
"The dynamic was really great last year," said Rigby. "As a coach, he was a very strong-minded guy, and stubborn at times, but loyal and definitely had the well-being of the team in his heart.
"He wanted you to know who the boss was. That was him as a coach. As a player, it was fun to play for him."
Newman's 18-year legacy as Mercer Island coach will be recognized on April 9. The Islanders will wear Newman's initials on their warm-up jackets and host the Steve Newman Memorial Game at 7:30 p.m. against Bellevue.
4 Another Metro team in 3A final? Bainbridge won the state title last spring, 3-2 over Mercer Island, after dropping the 2011 championship match to Camas, 3-0. The Spartans have eight regulars back, and Metro League opponents Lakeside and Chief Sealth also look like contenders.
5 Lions still roaring. Lakeside coach Mark Szabo lost four All-Metro Mountain Division first-team players and one second-teamer from last year's 11-5-0 state-playoff team, which lost in the first round to Mountain View of Vancouver 2-1. But the Lions opened the season 7-0-0, outscoring opponents 28-3 with five shutouts.
"With what we lost, I'm a little amazed with how well we are doing," said Szabo, who has guided the Lions to the state semifinals three times, with a 2006 runner-up finish. "We lost five of our six defensive players, and they weren't just average players. We lost our goalkeeper and three of our back line.
"It's been pretty amazing to watch some of the people step up. This season was kind of an unknown. It's nice to see us come together."