MOUNT VERNON — Coach Brent DeRuyter says he’s going to miss his senior soccer players, especially considering all they endured in numerous tight defeats during Lynden Christian’s first two seasons against larger schools in the Northwest Conference.
The Lyncs’ season ended with a 3-1 loss to Friday Harbor in the third-place game of the Class 1A Northwest District tournament Saturday at Mount Vernon High School.
“For two years, we’ve been playing in one of the most competitive leagues in our state,” said DeRuyter, whose team finished 6-13. “We had about the same record last season (in the 14-team conference). It’s been tough, but on the plus side, we feel it’s great preparation for the district tournament to play in such a strong conference.”
The veteran coach started seven seniors, so he’s looking forward to a highly competitive situation next season.
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“We’ll have about 12 guys back with varsity experience,” he said. “But our seniors are leaving a huge hole to fill, especially the leadership we received from Kenton Haugen, Aaron Korthuis and Peter Bratt.”
DeRuyter said he wasn’t surprised by the way his team fought after falling behind 2-0 at halftime. LC outshot Friday Harbor 10-7 in the second half, including a goal in the 57th minute by junior forward Eric Scholten.
Scholten’s score, with LC trailing 3-0, came on a tricky long shot from the corner. The Lyncs then had nine more shots in the final 23 minutes, but couldn’t convert despite several solid opportunities.
“I’m proud that our guys played tough all season,” DeRuyter said. “We got beat badly only once. The rest of our games were very competitive losses by one or two goals.
“We had a good group of kids with great work ethic, but we just didn’t seem to have the confidence to beat the really good teams.”
Twenty five minutes into the game, Kevin O’Connor — one of Friday Harbor’s 11 seniors — broke a scoreless tie with a short shot.
Cameron Byington scored 10 minutes later and fellow junior Grant Schwinge put the game virtually out of reach with a goal in the 54th minute.
Friday Harbor goalkeeper Jacob Gustafson frustrated the Lyncs with several fine saves, including three in the closing moments. LC keeper Reuben Hendricks, a senior, had six saves.