With a total of 22 athletes, this year’s Friday Harbor High School Wolverine boys soccer team is the largest Andy Duke has ever coached. Duke has been coaching soccer at the school for about 10 years.
“We will have more depth and flexibility in the lineup we can play,” Duke said, speaking on the advantages of the team’s large size. He added that there are new eighth-graders and freshman players that he has high hopes for on the field.
Since childhood, soccer has played a major role in Duke’s life. His dad was a soccer coach and Duke himself began playing when he was around 7 years old. Duke has played and coached ever since. As a teacher, he said he enjoys coaching in part because he loves watching the young players learn, grow and develop their skills academically and as athletes.
Most of the players are experienced, returning students, Duke said. Seven of them are seniors. The team only lost five graduates last year. Those five seniors happened to be key players, however, Duke said, like the goalkeeper and the center midfielder. The center midfielder was also the team captain. As a result, he said, the team will need to reconstruct the team’s defense. This will be crucial, as he expects this season’s competition to be tough.
“There will not be any easy games,” Duke said, explaining that all the teams throughout the league are filled with good coaches and skilled players. Orcas, he said, will be the team to beat.
“I’ve known the coach for 15 years. He’s a great coach and good guy. We have a fun rivalry,” Duke said, noting that both teams are driven and want the win so badly it makes them work even harder.
“We gear up pretty hard before playing Orcas, and I know they do the same,” Duke.
Last season the Vikings and Wolverines were tied in their league, making it to the top of the district tournaments but were one winning game away from qualifying for state.
The fact the team didn’t make it to state last year doesn’t entirely disappoint Duke.
“We were undefeated in our league games on our home field,” he said proudly, noting the Wolverines can take it up a notch and go even further during the postseason tournaments.
“I think trying to get to state this year is probably our primary goal,” Duke said.
The boys’ season gets kicked off at an away game on Tuesday, Sept. 11, against Providence Classical Christian School. The first home game at the Linde fields will be Tuesday, Sept. 18, against LaConner.