It’s pretty obvious to anyone in the know, that the best high school soccer in the state is currently played in Federal Way. That was evident last year when the Thomas Jefferson Raiders won a state record, eighth 4A championship with a win over Union in the final.
The Raiders enter the 2014 season as the team to beat once again. According to the polls, Jefferson is the top-ranked 4A team in the state and should be right in the mix for a ninth state title at TJ.
But the Federal Way Eagles aren’t far behind. The Eagles won the South Puget Sound League South title last season with a 15-1-0 league and are the favorites to do it again. Also, Beamer and Decatur are primed to contend for playoff berths.
A state-championship repeat for the Raiders will have to come without several key components from last season, including Class 4A Player of the Year Isidro Prado-Huerta, who finished with 14 goals and 16 assists a season ago. Also gone is fellow midfielder Luis Alvaro Osornio, who finished with 15 goals and eight assists.
But the Raiders do return their leading scorer in striker Brandon Madsen. The senior has led the SPSL in scoring the last two seasons and tallied 20 goals during TJ’s championship run. Madsen scored at least one goal in 16 of Jefferson’s 22 games a season ago.
“He is looking to do it again,” head coach Dave Hanson said.
Madsen will be one of only four returning starters for the Raiders, along with defenders Glenn Carpenter and Nigel Hall and midfielder Andrew-Paul McCleary. Carpenter, along with Madsen, were named first-team, All-State last year and McCleary was a second-team, All-State selection.
“We will be successful if we battle every game like it is our last,” Hanson said. “Every team wants to beat the state champs. So every game is tougher.”
According to Hanson, the loss of guys like Prado-Huerta and Osornio will hurt the technical and creativity ability of this year’s team. But the 2014 edition of the Raiders might have a bigger desire to win than last year’s more talented group.
“They know how to win and have a never-give-up attitude,” Hanson said.
Senior Samuel Vargas, a transfer from Tyee, should provide the scoring punch to go along with Madsen up front for TJ. Vargas didn’t play during the Raiders’ season-opening 1-0 win over Tahoma last week, but should be back from a little injury this week. Madsen tallied the only goal during the victory.
Jefferson sophomore Hunter Bowman replaces McKay Owsley in goal and picked up the shutout against Tahoma. Also providing depth will be defenders Garrett Dahl, a sophomore, and senior Jalen Bond.
Federal Way enters this season as the second-ranked team in Class 4A behind Jefferson and have dominated their first two games this year. The Eagles beat Graham-Kapowsin in their opener, 9-1, and downed Beamer, 4-2, Friday.
Federal Way’s offense is being led by Devin Pegues, who has five goals and two assists during the first two games of the year. Fernando Sanchez netted a hat trick against Graham-Kapowsin and also has three assists.