Daniel Nam just looks comfortable dribbling a soccer ball.
There are plenty of high school soccer players who have blazing speed running down the field. The Todd Beamer High School senior is no different.
But, unlike 99 percent of those guys, Nam doesn’t slow down a bit with a soccer ball on his foot.
“He was dubbed a magician by three assistant referees and wowed the crowds, and on many occassions his coaches, game after game,” said Beamer head coach Adam Kulaas.
“Dribbling and speed is my game,” Nam said.
Nam’s exceptional offensive skills led the Beamer boys soccer team to the school’s first-ever appearance at the Class 4A state semifinals and also garnered the senior The Mirror’s 2008 All-City Boys Soccer Team Player of the Year.
Nam finished the season with a team-leading 15 goals and 19 assists, including a pair of hat tricks. He also scored at least one point in 12 of the Titans’ 22 matches.
“It was an exciting year,” Nam said. “We had a lot of young talent and I didn’t know we would be that good of a team. We just had a desire to win.”
The Titans (13-7-2) finished the season as the state’s fourth-place team after losing to Puyallup and Eastlake last weekend at Harry Lang Stadium in Lakewood, despite playing mostly underclassmen and starting the season with just a 2-3-0 record.
“I wasn’t too worried because we were usually dominating when we would lose those games,” Nam said. “All we had to do was capitalize and develop some team chemistry. And everybody really stepped it up.”
Nam is set to attend Oregon State University in the fall and it’s still up in the air whether or not he will play soccer for the Beavers. Nam is a little different than other elite high school soccer players in Washington because he doesn’t play club soccer.
“I don’t really regret it,” Nam said. “The whole timing just didn’t work out. But you usually get (college scholarship) offers from playing with a club team and I didn’t really get looked at that much.”
Federal Way High School senior forward Andrew Hair took over the scoring duties for the Eagles after star players Kelyn Rowe and Murphy Campbell chose not to play high school soccer because of their club team commitments.
Hair finished with 11 goals and six assists for the Eagles, including four multi-goal games. Hair’s 11 goals were half of the 22 total goals scored by Federal Way during the season. The Eagles finished 6-8-2 overall a season after losing in the Class 4A state championship game.
Both Rowe, a sophomore, and Campbell, a senior, play club soccer with Crossfire Premier Soccer Club. The Eastside program didn’t allow boys on its two national academy teams to compete for their high-school squads.
Beamer freshman forward Ugo Okoli had a monster first year for the Titans. Okoli finished with 12 goals and eight assists for Beamer, including a hat trick during a win over Spanaway Lake on April 25.
“He and (Nam) connected at the forward position and he will accomplish some amazing things over the next three years,” said Kulaas. “He has big goals and with his passion for the game, could make them all come true.”
The midfield position was the strength of the Federal Way School District this season, especially at Jefferson. The Raiders landed four midfielders on the All-City Boys Soccer Team in senior Tyler Hanson, juniors Ernan Roman and Amos Nistrian and freshman Chase Hanson.
Tyler Hanson, who is headed to the Seattle University next year, didn’t play the whole season because of a leg injury, but still contributed four goals and five assists for the Raiders. Younger brother, Chase Hanson, was one of the better defensive midfielders in the SPSL this season after tallying three goals and two assists. Roman tied with Chris Miller for the team lead with seven goals and Nistrian chipped in three goals and three assists.
Joining the TJ foursome in the All-City midfield is Beamer’s Troy Peterson. The freshman was second behind Nam in points for the Titans with 10 goals and 13 assists, including a hat trick against Spanaway Lake on March 31 and two goals during the state playoffs.
The All-City defensive unit includes five, first-team All-SPSL players, led by Federal Way senior Omar Cruz and Beamer junior Jordan Hale. Cruz was the SPSL North Player of the Year a season ago and was a big-time playmaker for the Eagles this year with one goal and eight assists. Hale finished with nine goals and three assists.
Other All-City defenders include the Jefferson pair of DJ DeWaele and Chris Miller and Decatur junior Cam Schilling. DeWaele finished with two goals and two assists and Miller had seven goals and one assist, including two multi-goal games. Schilling, also a the Gators’ starting quarterback in football and starting forward in basketball, was Decatur’s best defender all season.
Beamer sophomore goalkeeper Ben Draeger finished the 2008 season with nine shutouts and led the Titans into the state semifinals. Draeger’s save in the final round of a 34-shot penalty kick shootout in the state quarterfinals gave Beamer a win over Shorewood.
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, firstname.lastname@example.org