Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group Sequim’s Liam Harris, chasing down the ball earlier this season against Olympic, tied Kai Antrim’s school record for career goals (40) with a score Tuesday against North Mason.

Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group Sequim’s Liam Harris, chasing down the ball earlier this season against Olympic, tied Kai Antrim’s school record for career goals (40) with a score Tuesday against North Mason.

PREP SOCCER: Sequim’s Harris one strike away from school scoring record

By Michael Dashiell

Olympic Peninsula News Group

SEQUIM — It was a family-and-friends trek to the 2006 World Cup in Germany when Dave Brasher first really noticed Liam Harris. Then, Harris was a pre-pre-teen who spent some of the trip scrapping for playing time with Brasher’s sons and nephews, each of whom had several years and pounds on the young lad.

“He was getting beat up and run over, but he kept coming back,” recalls Brasher, the Sequim varsity soccer coach. “I could see it then: he had a passion to play.”

Fast-forward about 12 years, and Harris is on the cusp of making his mark on Sequim High’s record books.

With 12 goals in his senior season so far (as of today) and 40 scores in his four years ofvarsity play, Harris is two tallies away from breaking the record for career goals held by Kai Antrim (2005-2008).

Harris, whose family has been friends with the Brashers for years and grew up watching a fair share of Sequim High varsity soccer, recalls watching Antrim rack up score after score over the years.

“He’s so good,” Harris said of Antrim. “That [record] will feel good, for sure.”

Harris’ roots in the “Beautiful Game” go back more than a decade. He got his start with Sequim Junior Soccer by age 3 or 4, and plenty of time kicking the ball around with his sister Maeve (a 2015 Sequim graduate and all-Olympic League player).

“Originally it was the sport my family played,” Harris says. “I kept at it for the competing,the working to get better.”

Harris showed a keenness and aptitude for the game, so much so that coaches from the select Storm King Soccer program nabbed Harris and Evan James — now one of Harris’ Sequim teammates — for a U-11 squad that needed players to fill out their roster.

“We were just awful,” Harris says, recalling their introduction to select soccer, a year-round commitment.

Harris played with Storm King — and had Brasher as a coach for a time — through the eighth grade, after which he joined a Kitsap Pumas youth club team through a connectionwith then-Peninsula College men’s head coach Andrew Chapman.

In his sophomore year he played with Kitsap Alliance, and for the past two years has been playing with Washington Premier in Puyallup.

Harris said while the adjustment to select soccer was challenging at first, he drew on experiences of other players he knew like his sister and SHS grad Zane Carey (now an assistant with the Wolves).

“I sort of knew what to expect,” he says. “It’s hard to compare [select to prep soccer] —the styles are very different — but the atmosphere is the same [as tough league games].”

Each of the past four springs he’s been reunited with Brasher on the Sequim High varsity squad, where Harris become an on-the-field leader.

Brasher says Harris’ advanced skills come from a combination of having played advanced soccer and having seen a lot of good, high-level teams.

“He’s got a real high soccer IQ; he sees things other kids don’t,” Brasher says.

Though he started out as a defender in his junior soccer days, Harris has made the move upfield to play several years at center-midfield and striker the last couple of years.

A vocal leader on the pitch, Harris’ experience and expertise can sometimes seem brusque to teammates, the Sequim coach says.

“His expectations are very high [and] he’s hard on himself and hard on his teammates,”Brasher says. “I try to tell the kids, ‘He’s not being mean.’ [He’s] trying to raise their play.

“They all realize he’s a special player so sometimes they might try to force the ball in tohim.”

Brasher uses Harris’ height and strength to wreak havoc on opposing teams on corner kicks and long throw-ins (“He’s one of our better players in the air, too”).

After notching four goals as a freshman in 2015, Harris earned all-Olympic League First Team honor as a midfielder with 11 goals (along with seven assists) as a sophomore.

In his junior year last spring Harris was well on pace to break the single-season scoring mark of 18 goals set by Casey Nagler in 2005 — Harris had 10 in the first three games ofthe season — but injuries held him to 13 scores overall.

High-scoring Wolves

This season, Harris has 12 (as of April 19), getting two scores apiece against five different foes.

But Harris isn’t alone in getting in on the scoring: Sequim averages four goals per game, and three of his teammates have at least five goals. The production and a solid back line have Sequim just behind North Kitsap and Kingston in a battle for the top spot in the Olympic League.

“I think this is certainly the most fun I’ve had with a high school team I’ve played on in terms of style of play,” Harris says, “Especially because a big portion of it is juniors and sophomores. It’s exciting; they’re going to be good for years to come.”

That group includes another prodigious young scorer in Ryan Tolberd, a Storm King product who notched six goals as a freshman last strong and has 11 this season — a pace commensurate with Harris’.

“Ryan is a lot like Kai [Antrim],” Brasher says, noting Tolberd’s knack for speeding away from defenders and finding the net.

Harris can break away from defenders as well, Brasher says, but the Sequim coach has thesenior often directing traffic in the middle and either finishing runs by teammates, or setting up Tolberd, James (five goals) or Hayuk Minano (seven) for scores.

Harris, a fan of playmakers Kevin De Bruyne — who plays for Manchester City and theBelgian national team — says he is looking at attending Seattle University or the University of Washington this fall, both Division I schools, where he may try walking on.

Before then, of course, remains a handful of games, a district playoff spot and, possibly, arecord-setting goal or two.

Harris says he’s quite comfortable setting the table for his Sequim High teammates.

“For sure, it doesn’t matter who scores the goal,” he says. “That comes from playing center-mid for so long.

“[But] if I see an open goal, I’m not going to pass it.”

________

Reach Michael Dashiell at editor@sequimgazette.com.

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