Sammamish soccer coach finds winning combination
Darryl Gonyea had to find some offense.
That was the task for the first-year Sammamish boys soccer head coach as the Totems opened the 2007 season.
Scoring definitely wasn’t a problem for the Totems last year, as they found plenty of offense on the way to a state run that ended with a fourth place finish in Tacoma. But that team graduated 32 of the 50 goals that were scored last season, including 13 off the foot of leading scorer Vini Oliveira.
So as Gonyea took over as Sammamish head coach, his task was to find the offense in an already solid defensive unit. Gonyea soon converted two Totems defenders, Brian Biccum and Nate Wigley, to forward, hoping the pair could create some offense for Sammamish.
“We were returning our defense so we knew that would be our strong point,” Gonyea said. “If the other team can’t score, they can’t win. But we needed to find somebody quick up front. I just tried to find the right combination up front to give us a little offense.”
The gamble paid off.
After a 2-0 win against Mount Si on April 18, the Totems are on a four-game winning streak and riding high in the KingCo conference with a 7-2-3 record. Wigley scored both the Totems goals in the win over the Wildcats.
And Biccum? The 2-0 win snapped a three-game scoring streak, as Biccum found the back of the net six times during Sammamish’s wins over Skyline, Liberty and Bellevue.
“Brian is one of the hardest workers on the team and maybe in the league,” Gonyea said. “He gets into that Lance Armstrong mode where he just keeps going. He’s always in the right place at the right time and had a nice little run there.”
Gonyea also credited Biccum for bringing intensity up front for the Totems, something the coach says has made a huge impact for the team.
“His biggest attribute is his tenacity,” Gonyea said. “That was missing up front. We didn’t have a person that would sell out to get the goal. Now we do.”
The Totems have rolled despite missing starting goalie Matt Hansen (mono) for the past few weeks. Isaac Valarde has stepped in his place and turned in fine performances, including shutouts against Mount Si and Liberty.
“We haven’t missed a beat,” Gonyea said. “Isaac went with us to state last year so I think that experience prepared him for what he’s doing now.”
The Totems 7-2-3 record is good enough for 24 points and a third place tie with Skyline. But Sammamish appears to control its own destiny with its remaining schedule. The Totems are 3-0 this season against the two teams in front of them, Bellevue (8-3-1, 25 points) and Newport (8-2-2, 26 points), with one game remaining against the Knights on April 29.
Sammamish’s other three games come against Interlake, Issaquah and Mercer Island, teams with a combined record of 10-21-6
But don’t tell Gonyea that.
“There are no gimmie games in this league, if you don’t show up ready to play you are in for a long night,” he said. “We do control our own destiny if we continue to win.”
An example of not showing up to play? Sammamish’s March 26 2-1 loss to last-place Interlake (1-10-2). Strike that up as a lesson learned.
“These last two weeks are huge,” Gonyea said. “Throughout the state it’s well known that when you make it through KingCo, you’re tested for the playoffs.”
Five different Wolverines scored goals as Bellevue raced past Interlake 5-0 at Wolverines Stadium.
Viktor Drangell, Jensen Brehn, Race Sciabica, Mike Rubenstein and Liam Kelly all scored for Bellevue (8-3-1). Interlake fell to 1-10-2 on the season with the loss.
Newport 4, Skyline 3
Skyline scored twice in the final nine minutes of the game but Newport held on to win 4-3 in a wild game in Bellevue.
Michael Green scored twice and Matt Eschbach chipped in a goal for Newport (8-2-2), who were aided by a Skyline own goal.
Alec Kimble scored twice for Skyline (7-3-3), who also received a goal from Tom Molyneux-Elliot.
Joel Willits can be reached at 425-453-4270 ext. 5060 or at email@example.com.