There are a lot of ways to measure success in the world of high school soccer. Anything from grade point average to a programs growth rate can count for a lot depending on who youre talking to.
Of course, if you want a clear bottom line, its difficult to beat straight up won-loss percentage.
Thats where the Kennewick boys soccer team has most programs beat.
Over the last four seasons under coach Brian Gochoel, the Lions have gone 50-16 (.757), including two consecutive state berths to go with last seasons Mid-Columbia Conference and Class 3A regional titles.
With the 16-match maximum (regular season) from the WIAA, any time you get 10 wins is a pretty good season. These guys are averaging above that, Gochoel said of a group of 10 seniors that has been with him since he began. Thats a testament to their willingness to come together as a team and take pride in their game.
Gochoels steady influence since arriving from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., before the 2010 season has given Kennewick the guidance it needed to become a yearly contender.
This will be his last season with the Lions, however, as he has been hired to start up the intercollegiate club soccer program at Washington States Tri-Cities campus beginning this fall.
I feel weve all taken something from (Gochoel). Hes really taught me a lot and made a big impact on my game, said senior midfielder Alvaro Licea, a four-year starter. I feel every year we progress more and more. I see improvement in our players every year.
Senior defender Marcos Borja noted the chemistry that has been a part of this groups success since 2011.
Weve had it since freshman year, and we built it up our sophomore year, said Borja, who joined his brother Samuel Borja, Licea and Daniel Uribe on varsity as freshmen. Weve always managed to come and do the work.
Kennewick went 16-4 last year and won its first-ever state tournament game before losing to Hanford in the Class 3A state quarterfinals.
The Lions are 9-1 so far this season with hopes of advancing even further. Team captains Marcos Borja and Licea were careful not to let Kennewick get a big head after winning its first nine games.
I dont like my team thinking were the big thing, Borja said. Im like, Guys, dont even start. We need to prove it.
A 4-2 road loss at Walla Walla on Saturday may have given the Lions a shot of humility at the right time.
To me, it was a good thing. Obviously, we didnt want to lose, but now that we know that feeling we dont want to feel it again, Licea said.
Another big part of Kennewicks success is the play of Ramiro Chavez, a senior who leads the league with 17 goals, 10 more than Mario Zarate of Hanford, the next-best scorer on the list.
Chavez led the Lions with eight goals last season, including one in the playoffs, but he was torn between helping his family and helping his team toward the end of last season, missing valuable practice time while the team advanced through the playoffs.
Gochoel supported Chavezs willingness to help earn money for his family but certainly missed his top scoring threat.
My heart ached for him. For any kid to be put in that kind of situation, especially somebody with as much talent and potential as Ramiro, is so hard, Gochoel said. I dont want to say thats the reason we didnt progress, but having Ramiro focused and available both physically and emotionally makes us a better team.
So far, Chavez hasnt had to make the same tough decisions, allowing him to concentrate on soccer.
The result is a more potent Kennewick offense.
Ramiro, hes a beast out there, Licea said. I think hes scored in every game. Pretty much, when were down, you can count on him to score.
Not only is he a good scorer, but he also comes back to play defense.
Gochoel said Chavez is playing as well as anyone hes seen at this level, including Alejandro Bedoya, an attacking winger playing in France who may soon end up playing for the U.S. National Team.
Ramiro, where hes playing at right now, is on par with Alejandro, Gochoel said.