Sports

New coach brings new outlook to boys' soccer

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SNOQUALMIE - The Mount Si Wildcat boys soccer team is looking for a new start this season. After a 5-7-1 season in 2004 that saw the team lose a home playoff game in the first round of the Kingco Tournament, the Wildcats look to improve under a name familiar to local soccer fans. Darren Brown, who has coached the Mount Si girls soccer team the last two seasons, takes over the boys reins this spring, succeeding Tom Bialek.

Brown's arrival marks a return to a previous era. Former Wildcats coach Bruce Caldwell, up until his retirement a few years ago, coached both boys and girls soccer at Mount Si. Now Brown gets the opportunity to do the same.

"Like I've said before, I love coaching the girls that I have and they're real special to me, and coaching the boys this year is going to be really something because it's been three years and when I coached Westview in Beaverton, Ore. We were a powerhouse ranked top five in the state for three consecutive years in the late' 90s. So it gives me a little spark of coaching with boys again," said Brown, who went 31-9-4 with Westview from 1999-2002.

Leading the fine returning class this season is senior Yosef Yetneberk. Yetneberk was the top offensive threat last season for the Wildcats, and his speed is sure to make things tough once again this season for Kingco opponents. Yetneberk is looking for a change under Brown.

"I expect Coach Brown to do a lot more practice time and a lot more midfield position to make it strong, and to play more offense instead of more defense," Yetneberk said.

Of the 67 athletes that turned out, which Brown reports is the highest in 10 years, there are seven seniors. Joining Yetneberk on that list are newcomers Robert Jepson and Jeff Lewis, along with returning players Evan Lloyd, Alex Crabtree, Owen Kirshner and Colin Parsons. The top underclass returning athlete is Dane Portscheller, and among the top underclass newcomers is Kevin Isackson.

"We will be using a formation that will utilize our speed component, as well as a high-pressure attack," said Brown. "It should be an interesting season and I think we will be a problem for a lot of teams."

Part of this change involves Yetneberk.

"Yosef, of course, is going to be a marked man. Everyone knows what he can do. He's an incredible talent and he can do things that really amaze me, and he's going to have a lot of Division I schools looking at him this year," Brown said. "But I'm going to utilize him mostly in the midfield, which will create passing opportunities not only to open himself up, but also the forwards up front."

The state of youth soccer is one that Brown says he'd like to see changed locally.

"The development stage of our youth in the Valley in the game of soccer needs to improve. I think that's fairly evident. If you look at communities such as Issaquah, and Mercer Island who are predominately good on an every year basis, my goal is to get us to that standard, and I feel like that we are a little behind," Brown said. "But we can catch up with more camps that are more advanced and teach technical skills a lot of these kids need."

Brown has scheduled a camp to run during July at Snoqualmie Middle School for youth soccer players. More information on this camp can be obtained by picking up a brochure at Snoqualmie Middle School.

Brown is unsure as to where Mount Si may end up in the standings after all is said and done, and while he may not be officially commenting on who may be the team to beat in Kingco, it should be a safe bet that Newport is that team. Led by their longtime coach Paul Mendes and winners of both the Kingco title last season and state winners in 2003, Newport will likely be the team to beat this season.

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