Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Thunder Mountain High School boys soccer team opens its season this weekend, hosting the Ketchikan Kings varsity at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with junior varsity teams playing at 5:15 p.m.
Falcons head coach Tim Lewis said this year's team is one for the ages.
“This is one of, if not the, most talented and technical boys soccer team TMHS has fielded in its history,” Lewis said. “A great group of kids. There are a lot of players who I have been coaching for a very long time, even going back to club soccer.”
Lewis said many of his seniors were players for him when they were middle school age.
“It is kind of cool to see them coming into their own, becoming young men,” he said.
Seniors to watch this season include Logan Miller, Gavin Gende, Lucas Erickson and Elias West. The Falcons are also hoping to bring senior multi-sport standout Meki Toutaiolepo into the goal keeper position, along with junior Miles Peterson and freshman Dawson Menz.
“Our numbers are a little bit down this year and I think that is partly due to COVID and spring sports and moving wrestling around," Lewis said.
Soccer has always competed for athletes with baseball, softball and track and the coronavirus pandemic caused the Alaska Scholastic Athletic Association to move wrestling from October to April.
“But we have a talented roster and a lot of versatile players, a lot of skilled players and some new faces as well,” Lewis said.
Due to the COVID shutdown last year, some coaches and players had not seen each other playing in over a year and Lewis noted many team members have grown taller than their coach.
“They are stronger now, I can say that about every player,” he said. “I am going to be moving a lot of kids around, which means formations and positions are going to change a lot but I think that is a good thing. I can basically plug and pull players as needed and move people from front to back.”
Lewis has been coaching in the TMHS system since the 2013-14 season. He played high school soccer in Maryland and college soccer in New York.
“A lot of school pride,” Lewis said in explaining what he sees in local soccer. “And that can go with any school that we play. There is a lot of pride in the school but also a sense of community. One thing I love about southeast Alaska soccer is, well in a typical year, we would do the hosting of players and get hosted if we travel to Ketchikan, etc. That is one of the coolest things I have ever seen or experienced as a soccer player growing up.”
Lewis also noted the state’s physical play, “which is kind of a product of the will to win, and school pride.”
Once fans see past the snow-lined turf of Falcons Field, Lewis said they can expect to see fast and technical soccer.
“We have a lot of upperclassmen who have been playing for a long time,” he said. “And I think it shows in how they have been playing. The unfortunate part is we haven’t had as much soccer time on the full field due to playing in the field house or just shoveling snow off the turf, which is taking a lot of our practice time.”
Seniors: Lucas Erickson; Gavin Gende; Trevor Guesno; Koneal Laguidao; Logan Miller; Meki Toutaiolepo (GoalKeeper); Elias West.
Juniors: Wallace Adams; Bryce Albay; Omar Alvarez; Cade Babcock; Talon Briggs; Matthew Hartsock; Ammon Kawakami; Phillip Lam; John Magalhaes; Miles Peterson (GK); Seth Shannara; Darin Tingey; Jaden White.
Sophomores: Ben Erickson; Payton Grant; Preston Lam; Mark Rago; Matthew Spratt.
Freshmen: Owen Adams; Elijah Harvey; Calvin Knapp; Reese Kugelmann; Dawson Menz (GK).
Assisting Lewis are coaches Josh Odum, Whit Adams and Joey Roters.