Historically speaking, Washougal High School’s boys soccer team has not had the success that the Panthers’ other spring sports programs like track and field and baseball have enjoyed. However, Washougal’s new coach vows to bring a new level of success to the program.
Shane Jundt is a long-time coach with the Washington Timbers club program at Harmony Field in east Vancouver, but now he’s added high school coaching to his resume.
Jundt coached the Washougal girls for the first time last fall, leading the Panthers to a respectable 5-7 record. This spring he’s coaching the Washougal boys along with assistant coach Jeff Lukowiak, who is also an experienced club coach. The duo vows to dramatically improve the soccer pedigree in Washougal.
“We are going to give Washougal a program where the kids learn and progress where it stops good club players from transferring to different schools with more established soccer programs, which has been a problem (here),” Jundt said.
Jundt said the biggest difference between club soccer and high school soccer is that in high school, a coach never really know his or her talent pool until the team’s first day of practice, unlike club, in which the same dedicated athletes return season after season.
All-league hooper Murray playing prep soccer for 1st time
The Panthers have a diverse mix of club players and talented athletes from other sports. One of the most experienced soccer players on the team is freshman Mason Vannostern, who has been playing the sport since he was 4 and has long played club soccer with the Washington Timbers, with whom he’s traveled with as far as Las Vegas to play in tournaments.
“High school soccer has been great,” he said. “I like everyone on the team, and the coaches are really nice compared to some of the club coaches I’ve had.”
Another new starter for the Panthers is senior Carter Murray, who hasn’t played soccer since he was 10.
In past years he played AAU basketball in the spring, but now that he’s 17, he’s no longer eligible, so he decided to return to soccer for his final spring of high school.
“Soccer was really the first sport I ever fell in love with. I played from the time I was 5 until I was 10, but stopped playing once I fell in love with basketball,” said Murray, who was an all-2A Greater St. Helens League selection on the basketball court this winter.
After seven years of year-round basketball, the chance to play soccer for experienced coaches is a dream come true for the senior.
“A lot of people are going to doubt us because in the past maybe Washougal soccer hasn’t been the best, but we’re going to try and make it to districts and just go from there,” Murray said.
Jundt said Murray’s drive to win is one of the senior’s greatest assets, something he has in common with Vannostern.
“Mason is a club player out of the same program I coach in and Carter is not, but their will to learn and their desire to win is very similar (even) though they come from different backgrounds,” Jundt said.
Other standouts for the Panthers this season are sophomore Peter Boylan and senior Trenton Lowe.
Team already showing signs of improvement
The Panthers opened their season with a 1-0 loss to Evergreen on Saturday, March 9, then lost to a tough Seton Catholic team on Tuesday, March 12.
In the team’s first home game on Thursday, March 14, Washougal focused on defense and tied White Salmon 0-0.
On March 18, the Panthers fell to Fort Vancouver 3-0.
For Jundt, developing the sport he loves in the town where he was raised is a chance to give back to the community.
“All the kids have really responded to our program well, and they all want to be a part of it, which is great,” Jundt said.