Sports

Goal-oriented Arlington kickers aim high

Arlington senior Robert O’Day helps lead the Eagle defense, bumping a teammate in hopes to steer away the ball during an afternoon practice. - Danielle Szulczewski
Arlington senior Robert O’Day helps lead the Eagle defense, bumping a teammate in hopes to steer away the ball during an afternoon practice.
— image credit: Danielle Szulczewski

ARLINGTON — Legacy is never far from the minds of Arlington soccer players.

While the program has been building over the last several years, each group of departing seniors tries to take the team to the next level, said Arlington coach Mike Gudgeon.

“We talk a lot about what seniors leave behind,” he said. “A few years ago, we beat a nationally ranked team in Lake Stevens and made the playoffs. Last year we beat a top-10 team in Marysville.”

Classified as a 3A team for the second year in a row last year, Arlington soccer finished just a couple of places from the league’s top four teams, the cutoff for the 4A district tournament. The Eagles went to the playoffs last year anyway, but the boys move up to 4A. And with that step up in competition, Arlington returns eight seniors from last year’s squad with their legacy on their minds.

“We feel making the 4A playoffs would be huge,” Gudgeon said.

Arlington’s schedule may hold the key to accomplishing the team’s goal. While six of the team’s first seven games will be played on the road, Arlington enjoys home-field advantage in seven out of eight games down the stretch in their season. If Arlington picks up a few wins on the road and defends their home field, Gudgeon believes the boys should control their playoff destiny. Last year, Monroe picked up the fourth seed to districts with a 8-6-2 conference record, leaving only one team with a winning record on the outside looking in.

Defense should continue to be a key component of the Arlington team seeking to improve on its 7-9 record last season. Although the team lost all-league keeper Keith Bayer to graduation, the Eagles return three seniors on defense and five more in the midfield. Helping protect junior Cory Ferris and sophomore Corbin Anderson in the goal this season are returning senior defenders Robert O’Day, Alex Britton and Jimmy Mitzelfeldt. Leading the midfield will be Walter Flores, the team’s second-leading scorer last season and Andy Henderson, who serves as team co-captain with O’Day, while seniors Jacob Kreig, James Chesnutt and Garrett Meyer will also help Arlington move the ball.

Two younger players come back from strong seasons last spring as well, junior midfielder/defender Juan Guadarrama and leading-scorer junior forward Jake Smith.

Gudgeon said he believes the team’s year-round preparation will help them compete in a tough league that includes Lake Stevens, Snohomish, Cascade and Marysville-Pilchuck.

“The kids put in a lot of work during the offseason playing club soccer,” he said. “I’m really impressed.”

The boys have a home game March 19 against Cascade, then hit the road for the next four games.

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