Editor’s note: After a handful of practices, Sequim High School’s spring sports seasons were cancelled before any officials games were played following statewide shutdown of schools and all extra-curricular activities in April. These previews were written just prior to those seasons were slated to begin. — MD
Spring sports preview: SHS boys soccer
Head coach: Ken Garling (first year)
2019 record: 12-0 Olympic League (champs), 15-2-2 overall; eliminated in first round of 2A state tourney
Top returning players: Ryan Tolberd (sr.), Adrian Funston (sr.), Eli Gish (jr.), Mike McAleer (sr.), Navy Thomas-Brenske (sr.), Reid Parker (sr.), Will Plasch (sr.), Aidan Henninger (so.), Kristian Mingoy (so.), Angel Servin (sr.), Keith Wilwert (sr.), Christian Gonzalez (so.), Brandon Wagner (so.), Jordan Hurdlow (sr.), Caleb Spencer (sr.), Ethan Knight (so.)
Newcomers: Nico Zingaro (jr.), Daniel Fabrizio (sr.), Harrison Bell (so.), Brandon Charters (so.), Aidan Braatan (jr.), Tyler Lawson (so.), Bryce Cameron (sr.)
Key competition: Port Angeles, North Kitsap, Bremerton
The Sequim High School boys soccer program is coming off an impressive season in 2019, one that saw them go undefeated in Olympic League play (12-0) and finish the season with a 15-2-2 mark overall.
That season ended with a tough loss to Woodland in the first round of the 2A state tournament, but was still one of the most successful seasons in recent memory for the Wolves soccer team.
It also turned out to be the final season for Sequim head coach Dave Brasher, who coached the Wolves for 24 seasons.
“We’re really going to miss Dave,” said Ken Garling, Brasher’s longtime assistant and the new head coach of the team.
“But we’ve got a great team that will have a lot of fun.”
The team lost several key seniors as well, including Mathys Tanche and the 18 goals he scored last season. Key midfielder Sean Weber graduated as well, as did defenders Chris Morgan, Ian Parker, Brandon Benson and Rudy Franco.
Despite those losses, Garling is confident in this team’s ability to take a step forward.
“We’ve still got a lot of great talent here,” he said. “This is a great team that’s going to have a good season.”
The star player of the returners is senior forward Ryan Tolberd, who scored 16 goals a season ago and is rapidly nearing the school’s career goal-scoring record.
“He’s a tremendous attacker,” Garling said. “I’m hoping he steps up as a leader, too.”
Also helping Tolberd in attack will be senior forward Adrian Funston, who serves a vital role as one of the Wolves’ key players in the final third.
“Adrian is such a creative player,” Funston said. “He makes a lot of things happen for us in attack.”
Junior midfielder Eli Gish will also be a key cog for the Wolves this season after breaking out in the second half of the season a year ago.
The Wolves’ defense will be a bit of a new-look unit after losing four graduating seniors a year ago, but it will still be anchored by standout center back Michael McAleer, another player that Garling is expecting to become a major leader in his team.
Garling is hoping that McAleer and senior goalkeeper Navy Thomas-Brenske can help the Wolves earn similar defensive results as what they had a year ago, which included eight shutouts in 19 games.
“We have a really good core here; I think this can be a great season,” Garling said. “And we’ve got a lot of really good young players coming up, too.”
Kristian Mingoy, Christian Gonzalez, Ethan Knight, Aidan Henninger and Brandon Wagner represent a strong group of sophomores in Garling’s team, and the coach said that he’s been impressed with the freshmen who came out for the team as well.
Garling is also intrigued by Italian exchange student Nico Zingaro, who made a significant impact on the boys tennis team in the fall.
“Nico’s an interesting player,” Garling said. “I haven’t figured out where he fits in the team yet, but he has a lot of experience in Italy and I always love getting more perspectives for my players to learn from.”
New hire, old face
The Sequim High School boys soccer program has a new head coach, but to those familiar with youth soccer in the region he’s got a very familiar face: Ken Garling, a longtime assistant coach and the man who ran Sequim Junior Soccer for 17 years.
“I’m looking forward to leading these young men,” Garling said. “I’ve known a lot of them since they were playing U-6 soccer, so working with them now at this level is a real treat.”
Garling served as an assistant to longtime SHS head coach Dave Brasher for six years, and he was a logical replacement when Brasher decided to retire after leading Sequim to an Olympic League title and state playoff berth in 2019.
“Working with Dave was amazing,” Garling said. “I’m so thankful for everything I’ve learned from him.”
Garling said that for now, he’s not planning on changing up too many things that Brasher did with the team in games.
“These boys know what they’re doing,” he said. “I don’t want to get in their way. As long as they’re playing well, I’d rather step aside and just give them advice.”