Kamiak returns with veteran talent, high expectations | Boys soccer

Knights aiming for back-to-back state soccer appearances
By David Pan | Mar 21, 2018
Photo by: David R Pan Kamiak’s Cade Cooke scored a goal and had an assist in the Knights’ 2-0 victory over Shorecrest.

A year after advancing to the 4A state boys soccer quarterfinals for the second time in school history, Kamiak comes into the 2018 season confident and hungry for more.

The Knights return the bulk of last year’s squad that put together the impressive postseason run.

Senior co-captain Andre’ Hamilton said that while others might view the team’s first appearance in the state quarterfinals since 2009 as a great ending to the season, the Knights didn’t necessarily feel that way.

“I think truly in our eyes it wasn’t as successful a season as we wanted it to be,” said Hamilton, who earned second-team, all-league honors. “That’s a really big thing on our minds. Not only can we take what we did last year, but can we get further than that this year with the team we’ve got and we’ve got a pretty good team.”

Senior co-captain Cade Cooke said that last year’s postseason success has boosted Kamiak’s confidence.

“We’ve only gotten better, so I feel we can go all the way this year hopefully,” said Cooke, who also received second-team recognition.

The Knights may be confident but they realize they have a lot of work to do in the next two months.

“The guys have high expectations,” Kamiak coach Kosta Pitharoulis said. “But they know they have to play every game. … It’s going to be a team effort all year.”

In their first two nonconference victories, four different players scored the five goals against Lynnwood and Shorecrest.

Junior Harrison Rohrbough, junior Marcus Swanson, senior Soren Pehlivanian each had goals in a 3-1 win over Lynnwood Tuesday, March 13, and Cooke and Rohrbough scored in a 2-0 win over Shorecrest Friday, March 16.

Pitharoulis expects different players to be putting up the goals this season.

“I don’t know that we can definitely put one person in mind that’s going to be doing all the scoring,” he said.

While the Knights have experience up and down the field, a new face is taking over at goalkeeper. Sophomore Conner Bourne was brought up during the postseason last year.

“He’s new to the starting role and playing lots of minutes,” Pitharoulis said. “He has to get familiar with the backline. So they’re trying to work out some kinks and make sure everyone knows what they’re asking about when they’re communicating.”

The Knights also have a handful of other players stepping into either new or expanded roles. The first two nonconference games were an opportunity for everyone to get in shape and more familiar with their teammates.

“We want to make sure everyone is fit. For the nonleague games we tried to get as many minutes in for everybody so they can be game fit,” Pitharoulis said. “And we were trying guys out in different roles.”

Cooke and co-captain Joshua Pang helped Bourne record a shutout over Shorecrest.

“It’s a team effort in the back,” Pitharoulis said.

Hamilton appreciated the defense’s performance against the Scots.

“We were really communicating and making sure we were covering stuff and making sure nobody was left open,” Hamilton said.

The Kamiak forward sees definite advantages to having most of the players returning from last year.

“It’s nice to have a team you can kind of build a relationship with over two years because having to change every single year can mess with chemistry,” he said. “We are a really tight team this year. We’re always connecting. We’re always talking.”

Cooke added that the Knights are constantly playing soccer outside of practice. Many of the players are on the same club team.

In addition to scoring the first goal against Shorecrest, Cooke also assisted on the second with a long throw-in that figures to play a major role in the Knights’ offense.

“He’s supposed to be our secret. It’s not so much a secret now,” Pitharoulis said. “He’s had the ability as a freshmen. He’s bigger and stronger. They’re more of a threat now than they have been. He’s had that ability the last few years.”

As well as Kamiak has played in the first two weeks of the season, Hamilton expects the team to continue to improve each week and that improvement will go a long way to determining how far the team goes this year.

“We don’t want to be the best team we can be at the beginning of the year,” he said. “We want to be the best team we are at the end of the year.”

Pitharoulis isn’t surprised at how hungry the Knights have come into the season.

“They got a taste of it last year and I think they really enjoyed going to state,” he said. “It was hard to explain to them two years ago what it means to go to state and now that they’ve experienced it, it’s a big deal.”

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