SEQUIM — With the success foreign exchange students have enjoyed on the soccer field for Sequim the last two seasons, one begins to wonder if the Wolves have a European talent scout guiding skilled players to the Dungeness Valley.
“I hope so, but I don’t think so,” longtime Sequim boys soccer coach Dave Brasher said.
“I asked his [Sequim exchange student Mathys Tanche] host family if they would put that into the application. His family [the Kings] said they didn’t know anything about soccer until this year.”
His host family has a much finer appreciation for the sport now, having hosted Tanche during the 2018-19 school year as the Belgian blur became a force for the Olympic League champion, state tournament-bound Wolves, leading Sequim with 18 goals and also adding 10 assists, earning first-team All-Olympic League honors. His skill on the ball and the attention he drew from opposition defenses also lifted the play of his teammates while simultaneously earning their admiration.
For those reasons, Tanche is the All-Peninsula Boys Soccer MVP as selected by area coaches and the sports staff of the Peninsula Daily News.
Brasher and Tanche’s teammates saw and played with him last fall during club soccer, but didn’t quite know what to make of Tanche’s game and how it would fit with Sequim when the high school season kicked off in late February.
“I didn’t know what to expect from Mathys, but he’s been another piece that has brought us up a notch,” Brasher said late in the season.
I heard that he wanted the ball a lot, could hog the ball and he wouldn’t fit in. So I didn’t know what to expect, whether that was true or not.”
“But it’s been great [inclusion-wise]. He’s a super nice kid. He really enjoys hanging out and being part of the team. He’s a little older than most of the kids, I think he is 18. He’s accepted his role really well and I think he thought he might have to do more than he has to do, but he realizes the talent around him is pretty strong and he doesn’t have to do it all himself.
“I think he had double figures in assists along with the goals, so he’s not just a scorer.”
Senior defender Brandon Benson said Tanche “changed our team” for the better.
“The thing I love about Mathys is that when he first got here he was a ballhog, he always wanted the ball and always wanted to score,” Benson said. “They play at a higher level than us over in Belgium, so I feel like he expected that here but didn’t really get that result at the start. As he’s gotten more comfortable with our games, he’s opened things up.”
Senior defender Chris Morgan played club soccer with Tanche for Storm King FC. “During the Storm King season he admitted that he didn’t have the best vision and that he was trying to work on getting that pass off and get it sent when it needs to be off,” Morgan said. “And we’ve seen him improve in that aspect as he’s had a lot of key passes, a lot of key runs and he really knows when to make the pass and when not to.”
Morgan said Tanche filled the role left by Liam Harris, the school record holder in goals and assists, who graduated in 2018.
“He’s the type of midfielder that can do almost anything if you need him to,” Morgan said. “He’s filled that spot for sure. He’s just a beast.”
Tanche’s toughness also stood out to Brasher.
“He wears the number 10 which is traditionally more central midfield, but we have him playing the No. 9, the center forward. He tackles hard and wins the ball. He’s not a prima donna waiting for the ball to come to him. He seeks it out.”
Senior defender Rudy Franco said Tanche’s ability to stay on his feet and keep the ball or come up with the ball impressed him.
“There’s been games where you see four people hit with him with everything they can and he still comes out with the ball,” Franco said. “For some reason, he still has the ball.”
2019 All-Peninsula Boys Soccer Team
Mathys Tanche, sr., Sequim: Led Wolves with 18 goals and 10 assists. Technically skilled and hard to knock off the ball, Tanche’s toughness and style netted him first-team All-Olympic League status.
Ryan Tolberd, jr., Sequim: Second-team All-Olympic League pick tallied 16 goals and 9 assists for Wolves. On pace to break Liam Harris’ all-time scoring and assist records.
Seth Johnson, sr., Forks: Scored 15 goals in first varsity soccer season for state-bound Spartans.
Aaron St. George, sr., Port Angeles: Olympic League MVP and team captain posted 11 goals and seven assists. Described as Port Angeles’ “playmaker and our hardest worker in central midfield.” Signed to play for Peninsula College.
Stuart Methner, jr., Port Angeles: First-team All-Olympic League choice led the area with 24 goals. Added seven assists.
Sean Weber, sr., Sequim: First-team All-Olympic League pick scored four goals with five assists.
Hugo Sandoval, jr., Forks: Evergreen League MVP “owned the midfield” for Forks. Scored 10 goals and added four assists.
Adrian Funston, jr., Sequim: First-team All-Olympic League pick had five goals and seven assists.
Hollund Bailey, sr., Port Angeles: Captain was Riders’ best defender and a first-team All-Olympic League pick.
Eli Gish, soph., Sequim: Skilled playmaker from the back notched three goals and three assists while earning second-team All-Olympic League honors.
Rudy Franco, sr., Sequim: Senior leader in the back notched a goal and two assists for Wolves.
Anton Kathol, jr., Port Angeles: Recorded six complete-game shutouts for Riders. Long goal kicks switched field possession for Port Angeles and led to quick scoring opportunities for his teammates. Second-team All-Olympic League pick.
Coach of the Year: Joe Morton, Forks; Dave Brasher, Sequim; Chris Saari, Port Angeles.
All three coaches guided their teams to their respective state tournaments.
Honorable Mention: Mike McAleer, jr., Sequim; Gabe Long, sr., Port Angeles; Tony Flores, jr., Forks; Oscar Gonzalez, jr., Forks; Ben Mattern, sr., Port Townsend; Teo Weed-Ayala, soph., Forks; Luis Torres, soph., Forks; Colton Duncan, soph., Forks: Nico Winegar, sr., Port Townsend; Silas DeWyse, jr., Port Townsend.