Bill Chissoe joked that he’s been coaching soccer for about 133 years.
It’s actually been about a century fewer than that. It just seems that long because it was in 1991 and 1992 that Chissoe was named The Oklahoman’s All-City coach of the year.
He then coached in St. Louis and North Carolina. But the pharmaceutical company his wife works for transferred her to the Pacific Northwest, so they moved to the South Sound despite having never visited Washington before.
Now Chissoe is the coach at Charles Wright Academy — and in his first year the program won the 1A Nisqually League title, earned a bye into the 1A West Central District semifinals and is two wins away from its first state tournament appearance since heading there for the fourth consecutive year in 2010.
“My difficulty is I just don’t know the area,” Chissoe said. “I just don’t know the teams, I don’t know the level. When I heard it was 1A soccer, I had my preconceived ideas. But I can tell you what — 1A soccer is really darn good, as evidenced by the guys who play here.”
Charles Wright (10-3-0) plays Port Townsend (8-6-1) in the district semifinals at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Harry E. Lang Stadium in Lakewood.
It’s the first time since junior forward Nick Iregui has attended Charles Wright that the Tarriers haven’t had to claw through a district play-in game. He leads the team with 15 goals and six assists.
“This is the first year that I’ve been at Charles Wright where every single person wants a state championship,” Iregui said. “This is the first time I’ve really ever been a part of a true team. And it feels good.”
They attribute that partly to the school’s computer sciences teacher — Chissoe.
Chissoe was a two-time all-state goalkeeper when he played high school soccer in Norman, Oklahoma. He won the school its first three state championships, earned state player of the year and still holds the state’s record for fewest goals allowed in a season (1).
He then played at Oklahoma City University and semi-professionally with the Oklahoma City Spirit.
And this year, Charles Wright has allowed more than one goal in a match only once.
That came in the season opener – a 3-0 loss to Class 4A Gig Harbor. Chissoe wanted to play the biggest, baddest soccer program he could in his team’s first match and that wound up being the Tides, who have reached its state tournament nine times since 2001.
“If you want to be good, you play the big boys, right?” Chissoe said. “Coming out of that game, I knew what I was going to say win or lose or whoever big a loss. What did that loss to Gig Harbor mean? That day, it didn’t mean anything. We were going to define what it meant over the course of the season.”
Charles Wright reached state four consecutive years from 2007-10. But hasn’t been back since.
But this year’s group has experience, even if it has just two seniors. About half of the team has played some level of Washington Premier. Iregui will play with Crossfire.
Grant Young, one of those two seniors, has played soccer with Iregui since recesses on the practice field adjacent to Charles Wright’s Haertl Field when they attended the lower school together.
“There’s so much continuity with this team,” Young said. “It starts with our coach. Our coach has everything detailed, We are very clear with our tactics. I have him as my computer science teacher, so I got to know him the first two-thirds of the year. I like sciences and he approaches soccer in a scientific way and breaks it down in a way I like to break it down. It works for me the way he thinks.
“It’s just so clear that he’s obsessed with winning and ready to do what it takes to win. I’m all about that.”
Iregui took one last shot at the goal during a practice drill on Monday. The ball hit hard off the right post, but goalkeeper Ethan Mayer had dove left. So it bounced off Mayer’s body on the grass and back into the net.
“When it goes off the post, off the keeper’s butt and in — that’s a good omen for us,” Chissoe told his team with a laugh just before ending practice.