As a freshman at Federal Way, Kelyn Rowe almost reached the pinnacle of high school soccer.
He helped the Eagles to the Class 4A state title match in 2007. He scored two goals and had an assist in the championship game, but Pasco held off Rowe’s squad, 4-3.
“I remember just about everything that happened in that game,” said Rowe, now a senior.
Until this season, Rowe didn’t have the opportunity to make it back to the top. He spent his sophomore and junior seasons playing for the prestigious Crossfire Premier club soccer team, honing his already impressive skills and earning a scholarship to UCLA.
With a letter of intent signed and freed by Crossfire to play for Federal Way during the spring, Rowe returned to the Eagles. He’s savoring every moment.
“It’s all about having fun,” he said. “You like to win, of course, but at the end of the day, it’s about having a good time.”
Rowe is having a ball. The News Tribune’s All-Area Boys Soccer Player of the Year has steered Federal Way from the brink of not qualifying for the league playoffs and into the Class 4A state quarterfinals.
“He’s a huge part of the winning streak we’ve been on the last couple weeks,” Eagles coach Jason Baumgardt said.
Rowe has been the Eagles’ go-to player over the past two weeks, when every match was an elimination game. He scored four goals in Federal Way’s final two regular season games – both victories – and two more in a 2-0 win against Curtis in a winner-to-district, loser-out game in the SPSL playoffs.
But it was his overtime goal against Gig Harbor in the West Central District playoffs that reinforced his position as one of the top players in the state. Federal Way, the SPSL’s No. 7 seed, was supposed to have no chance at topping the Narrows League champion Tides. But Rowe broke free in the 82nd minute, beating a defender and firing the ball past the goalkeeper for his 26th goal of the season and the improbable victory.
“That was a great play by (Rowe),” Tides coach Todd Northstrom said. “We knew the whole offense went through him and still couldn’t stop him.”
After that match, Rowe admitted that he felt as if a weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
“I owed it to my team,” he said, “to get us back to state.”
Returning to the state tournament is just one peg on Rowe’s list of goals. He’s welcoming the challenges of playing for UCLA and looking beyond college, too. Rowe wants to play soccer professionally, possibly in Major League Soccer. He’s aiming higher than the United States’ top league, though.
“My No. 1 goal is to play overseas in Europe in the English Premier League,” he said.
“That’s the mega-goal for me.”
Can he do it?
“If I can work hard, get better each day, catch some luck to get over there and get looked at, I’ve got a chance,” he said. “It’s all on me.”
THE NEWS TRIBUNE 2010 ALL-AREA BOYS SOCCER TEAM
F Jamael Cox, senior, Stadium
Lightning-quick attacker scored more than 40 goals this season
F Dylan Gaydosh, senior, Stadium
Another prolific goal-scorer, he has a knack for making timely plays
F Miguel Gonzalez, senior, Yelm
Offensive force totaled 29 goals, 16 assists; will play at Peninsula Community College
F Andrew Weishaar, senior, Puyallup
SPSL South MVP had 28 goals, five assists and is a two-time All-Area pick
MF Josh Phillips, senior, Capital
Cougars’ top player helped team to undefeated record so far
MF Chase Hanson, junior, Jefferson
Three-year starter doesn’t have gaudy stats, but can flat-out play
MF Josh Smith, senior, Decatur
Oregon State-signee orchestrated offense, led Gators to SPSL South title
MF Evan Robicheau, junior, Puyallup
Two-time all-SPSL South selection led league with 17 assists
MF Troy Peterson, junior, Beamer
Titans leader is on track to become a four-time all-SPSL South selection
D Taylor Jackson, senior, Auburn
Gonzaga-signee is a four-time all-SPSL North first team pick
D Kevin Wien, junior, Auburn Riverside
Defensive stopper also a weapon on corner kicks because of 6-foot-2 frame
GK Korey Durkee, sophomore, Gig Harbor
Big, strong keeper notched 48 saves, helped Tides win league playoffs
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Kelyn Rowe, senior forward, Federal Way
COACH OF THE YEAR: Tom Boatright, Capital
BEST OF THE REST
Dominique Dismuke, sophomore, Decatur; Daniel Gonzalez, junior, Yelm; Scott Hanson, senior, Bellarmine Prep; Suku Hudson, senior, Emerald Ridge; Derek Johnson, senior, Franklin Pierce; Josh Wright, senior, Tumwater.
Nate Boatright, junior, Capital; Nico de la Cruz, senior, South Kitsap; Jim Oganga, junior, Jefferson; Joe Olenginski, senior, Auburn; Geoff Sasaki, junior, Emerald Ridge; Sean Tollan, junior, Rogers; Gabi Zaccagnini, senior, Capital.
Kodey Eley, senior, Federal Way; Erik Lissak, senior, Beamer; Kyle Miller, senior, Tahoma; Eli Peterson, sophomore, Kentwood.
Ben Draeger, senior, Beamer; Alex Hall, junior, Bonney Lake; Keean Joling, senior, Capital.