It’s been 12 years since the Oak Harbor High School boys soccer team qualified for the district playoffs, and head coach Brian Thompson believes this is the year the Wildcats return to the post season.
“We have been building for this for three years,” Thompson said. “We have been doing what needs to be done. We’ve got the team to make that first round; we have enough strong, key players.”
Thompson’s confidence comes from the return of 14 varsity letter winners: seniors Tommy Murphy, Isaiah Trower, Matt Jensen and Bernard Deguzman; juniors Daniel Ross, Ben McCornack, Caley Powers, Alex Krantz, Andrew Mitchell, Chase Muller, Gavin Stewart and Kevin Silveira; and sophomores Dakota Powers and Maurilio Martinez.
Keeper Silveira was a Western Conference honorable mention choice last year.
The club would be even stronger, but 2012 all-Wesco honorable mention pick Caleb Gatica-Cortes moved to Mount Vernon and senior Eli Mitchell is out for the year with an injury.
A key newcomer, according to Thompson, is freshman Garth Wescott.
Last spring the Wildcat were 3-12-1 with a handful of close and overtime losses. With the experience and talent of these year’s team, Thompson sees a reversal of that trend.
“We have the kids that can push us through those close games,” he said.
Thomson said the team’s strength is its experience.
“We got a good group of seniors, good juniors, more depth on the bench,” he said. “We are going to have the kids with the leadership skills that want us to win.”
Thompson also said the team should be stronger up front: “Last year we only had one strong forward; this year we will have two.”
He hasn’t settled on a starting lineup but said that pair will most likely come from the trio of Jensen, Martinez and Caley Powers.
Oak Harbor goes on the road to play Bellingham High School at the Northwest Soccer Park at 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 12. Its first home match is with Marysville Getchell at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 19.