Thirteen seniors lead a Lakeridge team with playoff hopes

Photo Credit: MATTHEW SHERMAN - Lakeridge midfielder Ryota Ito is back for another year with the Pacers and head coach Jason Bell believes he has the talent to be a first-team all-league player this fall. With 13 seniors on this year's squad, more than half of which have had significant playing time at the varsity level, the Lakeridge boys soccer team figures to be one of the most experienced in the league this year.

The Pacers' team consists almost entirely of juniors and seniors plus a trio of sophomores and coach Jason Bell hopes that the team's chemistry and familiarity with each other translates to wins.

“A lot of these guys have played together for three years on varsity now. I don't think we have a lot of weaknesses,” Bell said.

Lakeride had a near-record turnout this season with 78 players showing up at tryouts including 27 freshmen. The influx necessitated the addition of a fourth team in the program.

Lakeridge will be without its first-team all-league goalie this year as Trevor Wilson was selected to participate in the Portland Timbers' development program.

Stepping up to take his place will be sophomore Cole Evered.

Defensively, Lakeridge figures to be very sound with first-team all-league player Nick Rooney returning along with fellow senior Ben Barna, a pairing that has playing together for years and that should anchor the back line.

A transfer from Philadelphia, Padgett Gustavson, should also make an impact for the Pacers this season as Lakeridge's “secret weapon” according to Bell.

In the midfield, Lakeridge's second-leading scorer from 2013, Matt Jordan, while Kenneth Martinez has joined the squad after playing football last year.

Ryota Ito is also back for his second season with the team and Bell predicts he will be a first-team all-league player this season.

“He's fast, dynamic and very skillful. He's a strong 1-v-1 player and he'll make a difference for us,” Bell said.

Up front, Avery Kott comes over to the Pacers from Lake Oswego and will be called upon as a goal scorer along with Bruno Homedes, another seasoned varsity player.

Lakeridge expects to be a balanced team from back to front and will look to focus on possession this season.

“I think, in high school soccer, the thinking is that if you can transition quickly from defense to offense, that's the entire game. We'll try to be a little more patient and control the ball and not focus to much on our counter-attack,” Bell said.

The Pacers will look to finish well in the new-look Three Rivers League this year and hope to take a step forward.

“We had a lot of one-goal losses las year and we'll look to turn those results around. With only five home games all year we have to make sure we make those count,” Bell said.

Lakeridge hopes to qualify for the playoffs this season and potentially make a run.

“We'd like to be in the top-three (in league). The guys last year were disappointed not to get out of the first round so that's been a goal for them,” Bell said.

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