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Decatur soccer looks to keep rolling in rugged SPSL South
By CASEY OLSON
Two-straight state 4A championships and a 45-match winning streak are not the first thing on coach Jim McAllisters mind. Improvement of his Decatur High School soccer team is.
We have a vastly different group than we had last year, he said. But the future for Decatur soccer is very bright.
The Gators lost several key players from last years state championship team, and the 2003 Gators roster is litterered with underclassman a big difference from last years senior-oriented club.
We had a birthday party the other day and all the kids were getting suckers and cupcakes, said McAlister. We are very, very young. We are very exciting, but very young.
McAlisters young group has him excited about the future of Decatur soccer, and the coach is looking forward to playing the season.
It is a vastly different group than last year, he said. Last year, we were very good the day we showed up for training camp. This year we are going to make some youthful mistakes and it is going to take them some time to get adjusted to the pace of the game. But I think we are going to be very, very good at the end of the season.
The young Gators got a big test last night when they took on the Thomas Jefferson Raiders at Federal Way Memorial Stadium. McCallister sees the Raiders as the team to beat in the SPSL South this year.
They are just a more mature team than us right now, he said.
The Gators will be looking to junior goalkeeper Kyle Bressler to keep the young team in games. Bressler won the 189-pound wrestling championship in the winter and was first-team all league as a goalkeeper last year.
He is a competitor, McCallister said. I dont expect to give up a lot of goals. He basically kept us in the state championship last year by beating Auburn Riverside in the semifinals in a shootout.
Decatur also returns five seniors, including defender Kyle Colbath, a first-team all-leaguer, midfielder David Klien, midfielder Mike Gilpin, midfielder Paul Brokaw and defender D.J. Farris. Other returners include back-up goalkeeper Taylor McClusky and junior defender James Craig.
Decatur opened up its 2003 season on Tuesday with a 1-1 tie against Emerald Ridge.
The Raiders come into the 2003 SPSL South as the favorite with several returning players from last years 12-4-2 team.
We have a solid team this year, said coach Darren Sawatzky. Our talent is spread throughout the field.
Jefferson was downed in the first round of the West Central District playoffs. The loss should serve as a motivating factor entering this season.
It was a disappointing loss and we should have gone further, Sawatzky said.
Some of the key returners for the Raiders will be Chris Sanders, Steve Mohn, Kyle Murray, Jose Menjivar and Matt Anderson.
Sawatzky isnt too worried about being the odds-on favorite in the SPSL South. He is just excited to get the season going,
It will be interesting to see how we match up with the top teams in
the SPSL, he said.
Sawatzky got a pretty good idea of the talent on this years Raiders team on Tuesday during a 5-0 shutout of the Puyallup Vikings. Jefferson got goals from newcomers Lamar Neagle (two) and Nick Wood. Sanders tallied the other two for the Raiders.