SEQUIM — Sequim’s Liam Harris personified the team-first approach displayed by the Wolves boys soccer team in their drive to the Class 2A state tournament this spring.
Harris could have sought to pad his scoring tally in his bid to break the school’s all-time goal-scoring mark.
But individual goals were not what drove Harris in his senior season with Sequim.
Harris and the Wolves shared the ball, the credit and the spoils of a record-breaking season.
“We had four players with 10 or more goals which was a record and scored 78 goals on the season for another team record,” longtime Wolves coach Dave Brasher said.
Harris settled in at a familiar and dangerous position in the central midfield for Sequim, marshaling the Wolves potent offensive attack as their de facto field general, distributing passes with creativity and flair, scoring inspired goals and directing play, while also able to step back and assist defensively.
“This year was definitely the most fun team I’ve played on,” Harris said. “I thought it was the best season I had in my high school career and with what the team accomplished.”
Harris finished the 2018 season with 16 goals and 12 assists and was selected as the Olympic League’s 2A Division MVP while also breaking all-time school career records in both offensive categories with 45 goals and 27 assists as Sequim finished second in the Olympic League and advanced to the state quarterfinals.
For these accomplishments, Harris has been selected as the All-Peninsula Boys Soccer MVP in voting by area coaches and the sports staff of the Peninsula Daily News.
It’s Harris’ second All-Peninsula MVP honor. He also earned the honor after his sophomore season.
Brasher is close friends with the soccer-loving Harris family.
“He could have easily stepped in and been demanding of a role, been a huge star, but from the start he was about playing as a team,” Brasher said.
“Here’s an exchange student [Hayuk Minano of Spain] that nobody knows but in the first two practices Liam could see that he could help this team win by having Hayuk play up and Liam could fill in wherever he was needed.”
“Liam possessed the ability to see the team from a distance and see where he’s best needed and be that guy. He could have demanded to be Ryan Tolberd and score 20 goals but Ryan doesn’t have the other parts of the game that Liam has. Not yet anyway.”
Harris loved having the number of talented offensive players at his disposal.
“It was great having Hayuk [Minano], Ryan [Tolberd], Mike [McAleer],” Harris said. “I didn’t have to score the goals this year, those guys were able to do it for me and that was awesome.
“I consider it a privilege to play with those guys. The best thing about this team was everyone on the field was trying to make the team better and focused on what they could for the team.”
Harris set the career goals mark off a Minano corner early in a 5-1 win over rival Port Angeles.
He ranked that score high on his list of achievements in 2018, but pointed to a pass to setup a teammate for a score as his highlight.
“One of my favorite things I did all year was a pass, in I think the second North Kitsap game to Eli Gish, and he beat a couple of guys and scored, I think it was the third or fourth goal of the game [in a 5-0 win].
“The goal I scored in the third PA game, the one where we beat, the record breaking one also was up there.”
“It’s sort of funny, going through every year, I was never thinking I want to get the most goals and assists for a career but sophomore year I started to to think about breaking the single-season goals record or the assists record,” Harris said.
“And then Ryan broke the single-season goal scoring record (21) and Hayuk the assist record (16) the same season I set the career records.”
Brasher’s favorite came in the team’s 4-3 state quarterfinal loss to Burlington-Edison.
Harris, who injured his hamstring late in the team’s state opener against Toppenish, came on in reserve with 15 minutes to play and quickly made his mark with the Wolves trailing 3-2.
Harris unleashed a long ball from midfield into the goal box that was saved by an onrushing Burlington-Edison goalkeeper. The goalkeeper knocked Sequim’s Tolberd to the ground in the melee following Harris’ kick — drawing a Sequim penalty kick which Minano converted.
“I still think the shot he took at the Burlington-Edison game coming off the bench [was his best play of the season],” Brasher said.
“I didn’t think he could even kick it with his right foot and he had the keeper waffling and was only able to parry it away.”
“To put in on target from that distance showed his determination and ability to play through the pain.”
Harris will attend Seattle University this fall. He said he will likely try to walk on for the Redhawks men’s team, but will stay active in the game whether or not he earns a roster spot.
Brasher said he wouldn’t be surprised to someday see Harris coaching the sport.
“I think so,” Brasher said. “He does love the game, he loves the interaction that it brings, I wouldn’t doubt he may start coaching youth soccer. The things that soccer has given him he will want to give back.
Harris is open to the possibility.
“It’s fun to be around soccer in any capacity, so I think coaching would be fun,” he said. “I’ve been lucky to have had a lot of great coaches in my youth soccer career.”
Harris also was quick to point out what he would miss about playing soccer for Sequim.
“Oh the people, without a doubt. The players and the coaches. That’s the whole thing about soccer and sports in general — it brings people together in ways that other things in life just can’t.”
All-Peninsula Boys Soccer Team
MVP: Liam Harris, senior, Sequim — Harris broke Sequim’s all-time career goal scoring and assist records (45 and 27) during a masterful senior season for the state-bound Wolves. Midfielder was voted Olympic League 2A MVP by coaches.
Ryan Tolberd, soph. Sequim — Forward shattered Sequim’s single-season goal-scoring mark with 21 goals. First-team All-Olympic League selection.
Ben Schneider, senior, Sequim — Forward Led North Olympic Peninsula teams with 23 goals and also dished out 12 assists for high-powered Roughriders offense. Schneider was a first-team All-Olympic League honoree and will play college soccer for Peninsula College.
Hayuk Minano, senior, Sequim — Spanish exchange student set new single-season assist mark for Sequim with 16 and also scored 13 goals. Forward was a First-team All-Olympic League pick.
Tony Flores, freshman, Forks — Fleet-footed forward was a first-team All-Evergreen League selection for Spartans.
Andrew St. George, junior, Port Angeles — Midfielder was seemingly everywhere on both sides of the ball for Riders. Scored eight goals and had eight assists. Was a second-team All-Olympic League pick.
Hugo Sandoval, soph., Forks — Midfielder was a first-team All-Evergreen League selection.
Sean Weber, junior, Sequim — Did a lot of of the little things to make Wolves a tough team to face. Midfielder was a second-team All-Olympic League honoree for Sequim.
Mathew Craig, senior, Sequim — Defender was a second-team All-Olympic League honoree for Wolves.
Aristeo (Teo) Ayala, freshman, Forks — Spartans back line was stout — earning six shutouts in 2018. Ayala was a first-team All-Evergreen honoree at defender.
Gabriel Terrones, soph., Forks — Terrones was picked as Evergreen League Goalkeeper of the Year by league coaches for young Spartans. Totaled six shutouts on the season.
Honorable mention: Stuart Methner, Port Angeles; Andrew Methner, Port Angeles; Hollund Bailey, Port Angeles; Rudy Franco, Sequim; Kenny Soule, Port Angeles; Michael McAleer, Sequim; Adrian Funston, Sequim; Oscar Gonzalez, Forks; Samuel Gomez, Forks; William Jeronimo-Pablo, Forks; Andrew Borde, Port Angeles; Zachary Dempsey, Port Townsend; Owen Scanlon, Port Townsend; Kai Dickerson, Chimacum.
Coaches of the Year: Joe Morton, Forks, and Dave Brasher, Sequim.