Last season the Arlington boys soccer team struggled through a losing season. This year, renewed optimism coupled with the return of several key players who missed last season gives the group plenty with which to work.
Junior Zach Fulwiller and senior Richard Gonzalez both were absent for last season and return up front as key goal scorers. Fulwiller has brought renewed intensity to the team during practices and Gonzalez has provided leadership that the club lacked last year.
The cupboard wasnt bare from last season either, coach Mike Gudgeon returns a crew heavy with varsity experience from last season.
John Tilton, a senior captain and returner, can play anywhere on the field. He fills in everywhere, splitting time between defense and midfield
Tilton can really control the ball at his feet and get by people. Hes great at heading the ball, either clearing it on defense or offensively putting it on goal, said Gudgeon.
Another key returner, A.J. Chase, will command the central defense. Chase came up big in several games last year as a junior.
Hes persistent and very quick. Putting those two together gives him the ability to track down forwards who have beaten our defense before they have the opportunity to score, Gudgeon said.
Defense will be a strength of this years crew, with returners sophomore Robert ODay and senior Michael Baxter, two outside backs. Both did a lot of work over the offseason to prepare themselves for the season. They will be counted on to help anchor the defense as well as push forward on offense to aid the attack.
Coach Gudgeon expects marked improvement up front, We struggled last year with no wins. We had no prolific goal scorer. We didnt have a go-to guy up front. Now we have Richard and Zach back who both are excellent finishers and we have some young kids coming in to the program who will be scorers for us.
The league schedule will not be forgiving with perennial powers Snohomish, Lake Stevens and Cascade on the docket.
Said Gudgeon, We expect to reach the 3A district playoffs and to have a much better record than last year. The thing about high school soccer is that a team can struggle one year and be great the next, or vice versa. Kids mature over the summer and we have high expectations for this group.
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