LYNDEN - Lynden Christian's massive number of upperclassmen provides the LC boys' soccer team plenty of promise heading into the new season.
Cody Fransen and Cody Sieving reminded coach Brent De Ruyter he's got a pair of sophomores who can play a little, too.
Lynden Christian's juniors and seniors account for 15 of the Lyncs' 19 roster spots, but it was Fransen and Sieving who made the difference during Lynden Christian's season opener against rival Lynden.
Sieving broke a scoreless tie in the second half, and Fransen added two goals over the next 25 minutes to lead LC to a 3-0 win during a rain-soaked, muddy Tuesday, March 12, non-conference match at Bender Fields in Lynden.
"We really wanted to get them, and it was a good way to start off the season," said Fransen, who started the majority of LC's games last year as a freshman.
Sieving, on the other hand, was logging his first varsity minutes.
"It was great for their confidence," said De Ruyter of Fransen and Sieving. "To have Sieving get a goal here in his first varsity match, that's huge for him, and for us to know that, hey, we got guys who can finish across the board, not just our returners. ... I felt that was huge."
Lynden Christian's youth showed up in the score line, but seniors Toby Dalla Santa, Lucas Reardon and Brady Harvey were just as important. Dalla Santa recorded two assists - one was a deflection off his back and the other came off a perfect left-to-right cross that set up Fransen's first score. Reardon helped orchestrate LC's attack from the middle and front third, and Harvey made several key second-half saves from his keeper position.
LC's reward for a hard-earned win? A postgame practice. The poor weather added to a few extra moans and groans.
De Ruyter said he had three or four players who needed more practices to become eligible, so the Lyncs began training less than half an hour after their win.
Fransen assured his side still had energy left, though.
They must have, especially after a somewhat sluggish first half by both LC and Lynden.
Each team put only one shot on goal and struggled to create scoring opportunities. Fransen missed a tough shot wide right from 15 yards out in the 18th minute, and Lynden's Alejandro Huante played in a promising cross that Harvey snagged in the 22nd minute.
Lynden's Arturo Torres botched the Lions' best first-half chance. The Lynden senior blasted a penalty kick outside the left post in the 29th minute. The miss exhibited coach Drew Smiley's frustration with the Lions' overall play.
"How do you not put it on target? His head wasn't there," Smiley said. "Our team was just a shell of a team."
Lynden Christian made second-half adjustments and looked like a new club throughout the final 40 minutes. The Lyncs started connecting passes, increased their defensive physicality and dictated the flow of the match.
"I was thrilled with our effort, especially in the second half," De Ruyter said. "We were a little passive in the first half. We allowed them to get the ball, but I felt our second half was a lot of better."
Four minutes after halftime, Sieving stumbled across some good fortune when a Lynden defender attempted to clear a ball that ricocheted off Dalla Santa's back right to Sieving's foot. The sophomore struck the ball from 20 yards out past Lynden keeper Hector Gutierrez into the goal's top-left corner.
Fransen scored his first goal 15 minutes later off Dalla Santa's second assist, and Fransen cleaned up a missed save attempt by Gutierrez in the 66th minute to put LC in front 3-0.
"Toby is great at that," said Fransen of Dalla Santa's crossing abilities. "We have done that before, where he just crossed it into the middle and I just try to get there so I can finish the ball he played into me."
De Ruyter said the Lyncs changed their lineup to a 4-4-2 in the second half. The adjustment paid dividends.
Lynden put together a showing Smiley wasn't thrilled with, but the match came less than 24 hours after the Lions tied Sehome 1-1 in a hard-fought match.
"Didn't show up," said the Lynden coach. "We played well last night, and we just couldn't go back-to-back and didn't have the energy."
Lynden was without some of its key players, most notably Isaac Bogart, who is a returning defensive first-team All-NWC selection.
Lynden Christian travels to play Mount Baker next at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, while the Lions host Lakewood at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 16, at Bender Fields.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862.
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN 3, LYNDEN 0
Scoring: Goal: Cody Sieving (LC), assist: Toby Dalla Santa, time: 44; Goal: Cody Fransen (LC), assist: Toby Dalla Santa, time: 59; Goal: Cody Fransen (LC), assist: Lucas Reardon, time: 66. Shots on goal: Lynden Christian 8; Lynden 5. Goalies (saves): Lynden Christian: Brady Harvey (5); Lynden: Hector Gutierrez (5).
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.