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Resilient Steelheads prepare for final push in WWPL season
SMOKEY POINT, WA— The Snohomish County FC Steelheads are preparing for their final four matches in their inaugural season in the Western Washington Premier League (WWPL). The club does so after already displaying remarkable resiliency in the face of losing multiple starters to injuries.
Four Big Matches
The Steelheads play July 6 in Gig Harbor against Harbor Force, July 7 in Bellevue against BeSea FC, July 13 at home in Smokey Point versus Grays Harbor Gulls and July 18 at Crossfire Redmond. These four matches will complete the 10-match league season for SnoCo FC, who are currently 3-3-0 (W-D-L) after six matches.
Looking Up and Looking Down
The Steelheads are keeping tabs on the entire table because the WWPL will feature promotion and relegation now and officially in 2020. This year the top six of the eleven clubs will form a new First Division in 2020 while the bottom five will ‘go down’ to start a new Second Division. Going forward any expansion clubs must come in through the Second Division and earn their way up.
The Fish need a win to clinch a top six finish. 15 points will do it, but the club have been sitting on 12 points and in sixth place for a while now during a break in play. Head Coach Dagi Kesim has goals to finish as high as possible, and to even challenge for the top in a late run.
Out but not Forgotten
Kesim has been able to keep the Steelheads on course and with the best defense in the league (.83 goals allowed per match) despite numerous injuries. Early on promising defender Karim Hanafy went down. Then it was starter and NWAC All Star defender Logen Flem. Defender Conner McWilliams had shoulder surgery. Starting defender and co-captain Gunnar Stohl had a heart procedure. Goalkeeper Alexis Viteri was away with his family for the birth of a son. Forward Kyle Aure broke his elbow. Through all of this the defense has remained the strong point for Snohomish.
CHECK OUT: New 2019 Steelheads Stats Page
Young guys like Cade Cooke and Marcus Swanson have played great. John Troka has gamely stepped into a center back role where opponents tower above him but his leaping ability shines. Hector Palomera has blended in well in recent matches. There is no drop-off in goalkeeping as Luke Brezak and Dorian Lair have jumped in along with Viteri and Gabe Acosta.
Credit to the Midfield
Credit for the low goals-against mark must also go to the midfield, where players have been setting up goals at one end and helping to stop them at the other with admirable proficiency.
Rio Alcorta is strong in the back but also is tied for goals with 3. Same goes for Devin Shull, who also has 3 goals but is an anchor when the Fish set up their defensive wall. Carlos Rodriguez has dished out 4 assists. Solid contributions have also come recently from Blake Camilleri and Agustin Domingo, among others. Against Nido Aguila Seattle, attacker Fabian Panduro did well playing in the back flanks. Victor Villasenor has earned more and more playing time.
A Lot to Play For
These final four matches offer a lot to play for. That’s how it is when you have a successful season. You set yourself up for late meaningful matches. SnoCo FC have spent nearly 3 years getting ready to put themselves in a position just like this. The challenges have been many, but the truth remains that the Fish are right where they want to be, playing soccer that matters right until the end of the season in another beautiful Northwest summer.
Local talent keeps putting on the Steelheads’ kit. This weekend will see the debut of defenders Cameron Cohn and Diego Rios on the SnoCo FC 18-man match rosters. Cohn is from Edmonds Woodway HS and is currently playing soccer at Chapman U in California. Rios is from Archbishop Murphy HS, Everett CC, and is currently playing soccer at Azusa Pacific in California.
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