Sam Heikell, Sports EditorOriginally published April 26, 2017
Ever since the 2015 season, the boys soccer team has had a target on their back, a weight on their shoulders and a high set of expectations.
That team two seasons ago made a long playoff run, taking home a Metro championship trophy and making it to the state semi finals, not only setting the bar for the program but giving the Ballard sports fans something to get truly excited about. Students, parents and teachers filled up Interbay Stadium every Friday night, heckling the opponents and supporting the team all the way.
Last season however, they finished with the best record in Metro and a top three state ranking, but fell short in the first round of the Metro tournament. The 3-2 loss to Chief Sealth came as a shock, ending their season seemingly before even it began.
Their superior regular season that would be cherished from other schools, felt like an afterthought at Ballard because of the bar that was set the previous season.
“Last year we thought that our record was really important until we lost at the end of the year,” Senior captain Max Berner-Hays said. “But when we lost in the playoffs, the regular season really meant nothing to us.”
This season that high bar still remains. The team believes that they are still knocking on the door, trying to make a state tournament run. They are currently third in the Metro league with the end of the regular season approaching. Despite losing key players from last season, they may have more depth throughout their roster this year, to go along with a group of experienced returning players.
Throughout my four years at Ballard, I have watched these expectations grow. For years, they have been just an average program, not the team to beat. But their recent dominance has helped them expect bigger and better things, as well as create a create a winning mindset down the road.
“As seen by our senior class of 14 or 15 kids, the program has really gotten a lot deeper,” Berner-Hays said. “We’ve really become a powerhouse in metro.