By CASEY OLSON
The Federal Way Eagles boys soccer team fell one win short of capturing the Class 4A state championship a season ago. Pasco downed the Eagles in the state championship game in Lakewood.
Federal Way and head coach Jason Baumgardt are hoping to take that next step this year.
“With a lot of quality players and great leadership we are looking to get back to the state playoffs,” Baumgardt said.
But the Eagles will be playing without their two best players from a season ago. Sophomore Kelyn Rowe and senior Murphy Campbell didn’t turn out this year because of their commitments to their select team — Crossfire Premier Academy, based out of the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.
Members of the Crossfire coaching staffs forced players to choose between playing for their school or for their Crossfire teams. Both Rowe and Campbell chose Crossfire.
Crossfire’s Under-18 and U-16 teams, which draw talent from throughout the Pacific Northwest, play in the United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA), which was formed in the fall of 2007. The USSDA is a 64-team league with squads throughout the country.
The Crossfire season corresponds with the Washington high school season and provides a higher level of competition while preparing players for college or professional soccer.
Campbell, a midfielder, has already signed a national letter of intent to play in the fall at Santa Clara University. Rowe led the Eagles in scoring as a freshman and was named The Mirror’s All-City Player of the Year.
The Eagles, however, do bring back a lot of talented soccer players, led by senior defender Omar Cruz. Cruz finished last season with three goals and seven assists from his sweeper position. Also back will be senior forwards Lalo Moralles (11 goals, seven assists) and Andrew Hair (three goals), along with midfielder Carter Brossard (three goals, three assists) and junior goalkeeper Vinton Lane (eight shutouts).
Baumgardt will also be counting on newcomers Chase Brewer, Max Ward and Jordan Ferguson.
Jefferson and Decatur should also field strong teams this year.
The Raiders will be led by seniors Tyler Hanson and D.J. DeWaele.
Hanson led TJ in scoring a year ago with 10 goals and six assists and will be joined on this year’s team by his father, Dave, who is entering his third season as the head coach, and freshman brother, Chase.
“TJ has strong tradition in this sport and we will continue the tradition,” Dave Hanson said.
Jefferson finished second in the SPSL North last year, behind Federal Way, and lost to Gig Harbor at the West Central District Tournament.
Decatur should improve this season under head coach Justyn Scholze. The Gators return their leading scorer from a year ago in senior Dominic Dedaj, who tallied six goals. Also back for the Gators are seniors Kevin Day, Will Brokaw, Jaycob Waddle and Jarod Johnson.
Decatur finished 9-5-3 last year and lost to Beamer at districts.
Beamer is trying to reload after losing a bulk of their lineup from a team that won two-straight SPSL South titles. But the Titans will still be one of the more talented teams in the South Division, thanks to the return of senior Daniel Nam and juniors Jordan Hale and John Drayer. Two freshmen, Ugo Okoli and Troy Peterson, will also provide some depth for head coach Adam Kulaas.
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, email@example.com