PORT ANGELES — As skillfully as he put a foot — or his forehead — on the ball and into goal, Port Angeles senior Stuart Methner put pen to paper as he signed to play soccer for NCAA Division III University of Puget Sound in Tacoma.
Methner, a first-team All-Olympic League and Peninsula Daily News All-Peninsula boys soccer selection as a junior after leading the North Olympic Peninsula in scoring with 24 goals and seven assists, was joined by his family of ardent soccer supporters at a signing ceremony Wednesday at Port Angeles High School.
After attending a Puget Sound soccer camp, Methner essentially talked his way into an opportunity with the Loggers.
“I had gone to a couple of camps and talked with coaches, and the last camp I attended was UPS,” Methner said. “It was the end of the camp, I was walking back to my car and I was able to talk with the coach [Reece Olney] and make it happen.”
Methner attended some team workouts before the coronavirus pandemic ended Puget Sound’s season, and eventually he decided he was interested in going out for the squad.
Next season will be Olney’s 27th season in charge at Puget Sound, and Methner said he appreciates the program’s nothing-given mentality.
“A policy for the UPS team is everything is earned every year,” Methner said. “You have to try out and make the roster every season. Hopefully, I can fit in somewhere on the team and travel with the team in the next few years. I’ll see what I can do in August. If I had to be at a position, it would be striker, that’s what I trained at the camp.”
The quality of education Methner stands to receive at Puget Sound played a large part in his college choice.
“Academics are pretty important to me,” Methner said. “A lot of the guys on the team are double majors, and education is valued there. The coaches believe we are students first and athletes second.”
Methner, the youngest of three soccer-playing brothers, made his varsity debut alongside middle brother Andrew in 2017.
He tallied 36 goals and 23 assists in his high school soccer career and also was a frenetic presence defensively and a sneaky scorer off the bench for the high-performing Riders’ varsity basketball team as a junior and senior. Methner also posted an honor roll GPA in school and was a Knowledge Bowl team member.
“He’s solid all around, but if you have to pick a couple of things that truly stand out, it would be his ability to score with his head and his long throw-ins,” Port Angeles boys soccer head coach Chris Saari said. “He can pick out the ball in the air on headers and he can throw it so much farther than the average player on his throw-ins.”
And Methner improved every season as a Roughrider.
“He doubled his goals and assists from his freshman season to his sophomore season, and then tripled his goal total last year,” Saari said.
“Last season was the year we lost [23-goal scorer] Ben Schneider [to graduation] and we were wondering where the scoring was going to come from, and Stuart busted that door down with 24 goals. His confidence grew so much every season.”
Methner played an enormous role in sealing the Riders’ first state tournament berth since 2012, with a four-goal performance, three goals coming off of headers, against Washington in the district playoffs last spring. That outburst came just a few days after Methner had four goals in a loser-out playoff victory at Peninsula College.
“Finally beating North K[itsap] and Kingston after all those years of not being able to get past them was fun,” Methner said. “But what sticks out to me the most was the playoff game where I scored four goals and we made state.”
Methner also was part of a standout Storm King Soccer Club team for a decade. He credits the club soccer team and community supporters for boosting high school soccer on the Peninsula.
“Every year we’ve improved our standing in the league, and I think Storm King is a huge part of that rise,” Methner said.
And he and his Storm King teammates ended club soccer on a high note.
“The last game we played was against Kitsap Alliance, a rival club for us as long as we have been playing club soccer,” Methner said. “It was a good way for us to end our Storm King careers, earning a win against one of our biggest rivals.”
Methner was appreciative of the support he’s received along the way.
“Pretty much my whole family,” Methner said of who he thanked at his ceremony. “It’s been a soccer environment all growing up. My brothers pushing me, my dad [Steve] for being a coach and my mom [Sarah] for all she’s done. I’ve had a lot of different coaches through my career, coach [Scott] Moseley, coach Saari, coach [Kasey] Ulin, my basketball coach. They’ve all helped mold me and push me to where I want to go.”
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected].