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The student news site of Puyallup High School

The Viking Vanguard

The student news site of Puyallup High School

The Viking Vanguard

Boys Soccer Overcomes Mental Game

The+boys+team+puts+their+Viks+Up+after+a+match+against+Bellarmine+Prep+in+a+moment+of+solidarity.
Credit: Lola Woodburn
The boys team puts their “Viks Up” after a match against Bellarmine Prep in a moment of solidarity.

High school sports are like a poker hand: every year, you put all the cards back in, shuffle them up and hope everything turns out.  

Coming into this season, the boys soccer team found it hard to measure themselves up to last year’s second place State finish.  

For head coach Matt White, however, a season is more than its win or loss record.  

“If you set your standards by plaques and trophies, you will always be disappointed. It’s got to be about humans. It’s got to be about the people,” White said. 

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And it was with this attitude that White coached. From the bench to the field, players like Riley Saxowsky and transfer athlete Braylon Bowen turned the game upside down.  

“Riley was just happy for everybody. No matter what happened,” White said. “Braylon Bowen, wow. I mean, he’s a transfer. [He] couldn’t play one minute of varsity this year because he moved from another school, and yet the kid trained every day like he was starting varsity, like it mattered a ton. You see what someone’s real character is when they can do something like that.” 

Entering the main gym, students find an array of wooden bleachers, crinkled student section posters and the rows and rows of plaques that line the walls.  

These plaques represent State and League wins, from both past and present seasons.  It’s easy to look at those plaques and use them to define the success of a sport.  

“We won the league championship. There’s a plaque that goes up, and that was the year that you know that thing happened. But those plaques get hit by balls all the time and get knocked down in the gym. Does that mean that it doesn’t have value anymore? It’s got to be about something else,” White said.  

And this year, according to athlete Brody Smith, the coaches did a brilliant job teaching their players more than just how to kick a goal.  

“Mentally, always telling us to pick our head up and keep moving on. Even if we win or lose, we just have to focus on the max,” Smith said. 

Even the players themselves were able to encourage each other.  

“Zach Robertson, definitely Roby Hooper, and Curren Coffield and Cameron. They all really stood out to me, and I think they all performed every game to their best,” Smith said. 

And despite their shortcomings, as well as an inopportune loss soon after State began, the team is ready to come out blazing in the 2024-2025 season.  

“I feel like we could have been better. There was a lot of stuff we could work on for next year,” Smith said. “I’m just waiting to move on to the next season.”  

Curren Caufield, a ninth grader, is one of those hopes for the next season.  

“Curren Caufield: he was our third leading scorer as a ninth grader. That kid is just gonna grow leaps and bounds,” White said.  

And of course, there’s star players like Zack Robertson, who was every opposing team’s target for a foul.  

“There’s nobody who worked harder for the squad than Zach Robertson,” White said. “It wasn’t just that he was our top goal scorer. He was our top assist guy. Anybody else who scored, most likely that assist came from Zack. [He] didn’t just try to score everything himself. He found the open guy who then got the goal.”  

And just like they were scoring goals into the net, the team stood together to accomplish their mental goals.  

“Our goals are always constant improvement and squad first. So, wherever you start, the goal is to get better from day one today,” White said.

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Sienna Hanson, Staff
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