Versatile, leader by example, do-everything player, unselfish: These words by Lynden Christian coach Brent De Ruyter describe what Luke Reardon is and has meant to the Lyncs soccer team, not only this season, but during his brilliant four-year varsity career.
"He's extremely skilled and has played pretty much every position but keeper," De Ruyter said of his senior co-captain in a phone interview. "He's really been our little engine in the middle. He makes plays, gets back on defense and is just able to control the ball in the middle. He's fantastic for us."
Center back is Reardon's most natural position. He plays there for his Whatcom Rangers club team and started on LC's back line early in his prep career.
This year, Reardon's thrived as an attacking mid, serving as the control center of the Lyncs' attack.
He and his veteran club, which boasts nine seniors, have reached the Class 1A State quarterfinals for the first time since Lynden Christian accomplished the feat in 2002 when LC finished fourth in state. A win against Seattle Academy at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at Orca Field on Whatcom Community College's campus will, at the least, match Lynden Christian's best finish under De Ruyter.
"Getting to the quarterfinals, we're the first Lynden Christian team in 11 years to get that far," Reardon said in a phone interview. "It feels really special. Now that we're in the quarterfinals, we have to take the next step."
De Ruyter has coached top talents during his 11 years at helm of LC's soccer program, and Reardon is one of the best to play for him.
"He's one of the most skilled kids we've had in our program," De Ruyter admitted.
Reardon's compiled 11 goals this season, and his nine assists match forward Toby Dalla Santa for the team high. His 31 points rank second on the club.
But Reardon could care less about stats, De Ruyter said. Wins and losses are more important.
"Our conference was very strong in the middle," said the LC coach. "We felt like (Reardon) could really help Cody Fransen and Trevor Kamena. Most guys take a long time to transition, but he's stepped up right in there and has made it happen for us. He's an unselfish kid. He's not really about goal seeking. He leads our team in assists, and I believe he had done a great job."
De Ruyter's not the only one who thinks that way. Arguably the ultimate sign of appreciation is respect from teammates. Reardon was selected team co-captain along with friend, attacking partner and tennis doubles teammate Dalla Santa. The two were chosen by team voting, which included eight votes from seniors, not including Reardon.
Dalla Santa, who "is more vocal," and Reardon, who De Ruyter said is the "lead-by-example" type, balance each other quite well.
The chemistry the pair's struck, not only with each other but with the whole team, has been a major factor in Lynden Christian's postseason run.
Having an upperclassmen-heavy club means the Lyncs have had multiple years of playing experience together.
LC earned only one more regular-season win this year than last year but didn't advance past tri-districts. This season's group has displayed an elevated level of confidence, De Ruyter said.
"I think it's probably one phrase," said the LC coach of the difference between the 2012 and 2013 Lyncs. "Last year it was: Can we do this? This year it's: We can do this. The biggest thing has been confidence as a group."
Reardon agreed with De Ruyter, saying that while Lynden Christian's defense has come together at the right time, his club has a knack for playing its best in May.
"I really feel the team has come alive once the district and tri-district tournaments start," he said. "We start to put it all together at the end of the year."
The Lyncs are 5-1 this postseason, outscoring opponents 16-6. Reardon has scored four of those goals and has added three assists.
De Ruyter said the strength of the Northwest Conference has prepared the Lyncs for postseason play. He's driven Lynden Christian to focus on increased physicality while placing an emphasis on team defense. Reardon has helped lead that charge and has provided the Lyncs a spark when they need it.
"The physicality has just come easy with nine seniors," De Ruyter said. (Reardon) is a big part of that, and we've seen extra urgency from Luke. He wants to make something happen for the team, not just for him. For him to play that way has been huge for us."
Reardon's four years playing for Lynden Christian has been "special," he said. A trip to the Class 1A State Tournament semifinals and two more games would make the ending to his career that much sweeter.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862.
SATURDAY'S STATE SOCCER GAMES
At Battle Ground High School
Quarterfinals: Ridgefield vs. Bellingham, 4 p.m.
At Whatcom Community College's Orca Field
Quarterfinals: Lynden Christian vs. Seattle Academy, 3 p.m.
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.