The weakness of the Gig Harbor High’s boys soccer team a season ago was fairly clear: The Tides struggled to score goals.
In two games against Class 4A Narrows League champion Bellarmine Prep, Gig Harbor was outscored 4-0. In a playoff game against Kentridge, Gig Harbor lost, 3-0.
Obviously, that lack of scoring production isn’t a recipe for success.
So this year, the emphasis has shifted toward having a more potent attack.
We have a good balance, and some new kids coming up that will get a chance to play. We just have to get healthy and get everyone on the field.
Todd Northstrom, Gig Harbor coach
“I’m hoping it’ll be a big year,” said Gig Harbor coach Todd Northstrom, who is going into his 15th year coaching at the high school. “We have a good balance, and some new kids coming up that will get a chance to play. We just have to get healthy and get everyone on the field. But I’ve been happy with what I’ve seen in practices.”
Gig Harbor will get an immediate boost in the attack in the form of senior Chase Alire, who missed nearly all of last season with a broken ankle. Despite only playing in four games last season, Alire ended the season as the team’s third-leading goal scorer.
Alire’s return will allow senior Chase Tovey to float back into his more natural center midfield position and senior Shawn Kimble to move to the outside. And the defense, anchored by senior center back Jack Sluys — who spent time in the offseason playing with the Seattle Sounders Academy —looks like the team’s strength.
“(The back line) looks strong,” Sluys said. “We’ve got guys that played last year. We have a good variety of players at goalkeeper. We just have a solid defense.”
And Sluys has already noticed a change across the rest of the field, as well.
The midfield looks good. It looks like we’re going to possess the ball better than we did last year.
Jack Sluys, Gig Harbor senior center back
“I think we’ll have a better attack than we did last year,” Sluys said. “We didn’t score many goals last year. The midfield looks good. It looks like we’re going to possess the ball better than we did last year.”
Gig Harbor enters a new classification and a new league this season, playing in the Class 3A South Sound Conference.
“I like it,” Sluys said. “It’ll be different. We get to play some new teams.”
The shift means no more duking it out with Bellarmine for the league title, seemingly every year. The rivalry was hotly contested over the years.
“I like playing them, but it’s nice trying playing new, different teams,” Northstrom said. “It’s a great rivalry. It’ll be missed. They’ve kind of had their way with us the last couple years.”
The expectation remains the same for the Tides — winning the league title.
“I expect to be at the top of the group,” Sluys said. “I feel like we have a good enough team to be contending for a league title. For me, that’s always the goal. I want to get us back to the playoffs and get us into state.”
Northstrom expects the league to be tougher than some may think.
Everyone thinks we’re just going to roll into this league. I don’t think so. I think it’s going to be tough.
“Everyone thinks we’re just going to roll into this league,” Northstrom said. “I don’t think so. I think it’s going to be tough. Especially the first half of the season. Traditionally, we get better in the second half of the season.”
Even so, Northstrom expects the Tides to be contending for the league title, when it’s all said and done.
“That’s our goal every year, whatever league we’re in, and then just see where we go from there,” Northstrom said.