Continued shots of positivity and togetherness can take the North Creek High boys soccer team far this season, according to first-year head coach Dustin Short.
As they neared the halfway point of the 4A KingCo season, the Jaguars sported a 2-2 league record and 5-2 overall mark at press time. Big moments were handing Redmond — last year’s 3A KingCo tournament champ and state semifinalist — its only loss (1-0) of the season and leading another powerhouse Mount Si, 1-0, up until the final minutes before falling, 2-1.
Short notes that playing in the intense 4A KingCo conference involves matching opponents’ physicality — two Jaguars sustained concussions against Mount Si — but his team goes far beyond that.
“We’re trying to play very organized, very skillful, very technical,” said Short, noting that the Jaguars bring out the best in each other. “I think what makes this a special team but also a unique team is not only their work ethic and athleticism, but the style of play that we’re trying to achieve.”
Short teaches his players to respect the game, the referees, the coaches and their opponents. He has high expectations for himself and his players and wants to make sure they play the game correctly.
Senior center midfielder Gian Herrera, who recently won a state cup with his Seattle United U18-19 squad, has high hopes for the Jaguars.
“I just like how hard we work and how together we are throughout the games. We keep it positive and we just give it all we can throughout the games, even if we’re down,” Herrera said.
Viraj Shah, a senior wing/center midfielder who also plays premier ball in Edmonds, said the team’s tight connection pays dividends when the ball is kicked into play.
“We all treat each other as a family. We’re really close, and I think that really helps with our playing style, too,” Shah said. “It’s intense throughout the whole game. You have to just keep your composure and keep the intensity up.”
After a year playing for the Crossfire Academy, senior center back Jacob Moon returns to the high-school scene with his new team after competing for Bothell High sophomore year.
With the energy flowing in 4A KingCo, Moon and his teammates are competing hard each match.
“This year brings a lot of excitement ‘cause we also have a lot of underclassmen that proved themselves during tryouts and also throughout the season,” Moon said.
Other top players for North Creek are sophomore goalkeeper Lucas Haigh (two shutouts), senior defender Anirit Bansal and junior forward Jonathan Perez and sophomore defender Josh Vora, both of whom notched hat tricks in wins over Shorecrest and Newport, respectively.
Short has coached for 20 years — including six at Seattle United — after playing ball for Linfield College in Oregon.
The Shorecrest High grad’s Jaguar squad beat his alma mater, 5-4, in a thrilling match to begin the season. North Creek trailed, 4-2, with a player down after being issued a red card before launching a comeback.
“It kind of gave me a sense of the makeup of the team, and how they (have) a no-quit attitude and they’re willing to push through adversity,” Short said.