That’s what Lake Washington High boys soccer coach Rod Smith stresses to his players each day on the pitch.
If things aren’t going the Kangs’ way during part of a match, he tells them, “Just keep your head up, get the next one and good things will happen, just keep working.”
The ball has certainly been making positive bounces in LW’s direction this season as the Kangs sported a 9-2-0 record in 3A KingCo play at press time. They stood in second place behind 11-0-0 Mercer Island.
Leading the way for LW on the scoring front are seniors Edgar Iniguez with 10 goals, Arturo Lomeli-Gil with six goals and Baptiste Debuire with three goals and 11 assists, along with junior Paul Skorupa with five goals, including a hat trick against Sammamish.
“I think we’ve had good battles, but I think we’ve come out in the beginning of the game with a mentality that we wanna win, and with the mentality that ‘Let’s get the scoreboard going already,’” Iniguez said.
Added Debuire about the best aspects of LW soccer this season: “On game day, warming up with the music blasting in our ears, or when we score — having the whole team super hyped, celebrating and cheering us on — and having the fans all out here.”
LW soccer is new to Iniguez and Debuire, who both turned out their senior years to get in on the action. They both have extensive club soccer experience and felt it was time to Kang it up.
“I just felt like it was my duty to come out and support the team,” said Debuire, who added that playing with his friends was crucial as well.
Iniguez said he’s excited to be welcomed into the program and the familial-like surroundings.
“It’s been fun. We’ve been doing great and want to keep that going,” he said.
The Kangs possess talented players from back to front, starting with senior goalkeeper Jamison Gunhus, who had four shutouts at press time; tough defenders in seniors Alex Lundin and Nate Lewis, juniors Shoma Okita and Casey Brine and sophomore Jackson Fox; and a strong midfield, which includes Debuire.
From his spot in goal, Gunhus can see the guys successfully switching the ball to each side of the field, keeping possession and launching attacks.
“It just seems like we all really came together this year,” said Gunhus, noting that the new players are vital to the program.
Added coach Smith, a 1996 LW graduate: “The main thing is it’s a team sport. You need every single person on the field and you need every single person on the team for it to work. If you can get everybody to buy in, you’re gonna do good things.”
Four-year LW varsity player Lomeli-Gil said there’s a good vibe around the LW soccer scene this season. The players always work hard and have a blast.
“When it comes to playing on the field, I think we get down to it. It’s pretty serious,” he said. “But off the field, it’s a different story. I think we’re a pretty fun team, we like to mess around and joke with each other.”
Coach Smith is enjoying his time with the Kangs every step of the way. From practice to games, they’re fun to watch, he said.
“We’re putting them in the back of the net and that’s always exciting,” he concluded with a smile.