By Amylynn RichardsBASKETBALLBoys and girls basketball are gearing up for the start of the regular season. There is a boys’ basketball jamboree this afternoon; the Braves are scheduled to play at 4 p.m. and again at 5 p.m. Jamboree match-ups last ten minutes each.The boys’ sophomore team hosts Highland Christian on Thursday, Dec. 2 at 6 p.m.The junior varsity girls host Lakewood high for the first game under their new coach, Marla Quesnell, at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. and varsity plays at 7 p.m.On Saturday, Dec. 4, both the boys’ and girls’ teams host Blaine. Junior varsity games are at 4:30 p.m. and varsity games are at 6 p.m.YOUTH BASKETBALLRegistration has begun for the La Conner 3-On-3 Youth Basketball League, run by boys’ basketball coach Scott Novak. The league is open to boys and girls who are La Conner students in grades Kindergarten through Third grade. The fee is $25, payable to the La Conner Booster club, includes a team T-shirt and four Saturday games, starting the second week in January. Family members are encouraged to volunteer. Sign up deadline is on Friday, Dec. 10, participant and volunteer forms are available at the elementary school office.
Final year for impressive boys’ soccer trio
Photo by Edward BakerBraves Boys's Soccer Team senior captains David Carr, Sten Mejlaender and Kyle McKnight were a force to be reckoned with on the soccer field.
By M. Sharon Baker
La Conner’s third place state finish and 18-3 season marked the end of the high school soccer careers for a trio of seniors who are considered to be among the best players in the state by opposing coaches and players.
Senior captains Kyle McKnight, David Carr and Sten Mejlaender have been forces to contend with since they stepped on the field as freshmen.
And while McKnight and Carr missed their sophomore soccer seasons – McKnight sat out with a knee injury and Carr because he decided to play football – the trio still managed to set many records over the course of their 2B high school soccer seasons. They were feared by nearly every opponent due to Carr’s and McKnight’s offensive prowess, McKnight’s ability to control the midfield, and Mejlaender solid defensive play.
The three contributed nearly 61 percent to the Brave’s goal production this year, scoring 57 of 94 goals. Those 94 goals placed the team second overall with the most goals scored of schools their size. McKnight and Mejlaender, when they played sweeper, also anchored a defense that only allowed 15 goals the entire season, making them the second stingiest defense in the state, and helping Braves’ goalie Taylor Fay to seven shutouts.
Carr: State’s leading goal scorer
Carr, who started playing soccer at age four, racked up 36 goals this season and became the state’s 1B 2B leading scorer, possibly scoring more goals in a season than any other 2B player ever. He also had seven assists. A year earlier Carr scored 27 goals, and as a freshman, he notched nine, bringing his three-year total to 72. He earned 2nd Team All-State honors as a freshman and then again in 2009, and this year made the 1st Team All-State.
Carr has garnered annual All-League honors as well and this year was named Senior of the Year and Forward of the Year, and given the Golden Boot award for most goals, awards from Washington Soccer Central, which provides the only coverage of 2B/1B soccer statewide.
La Conner coach Steve De Leon calls Carr a goal scoring predator. “If there's a way to get even just his toe on the ball and score a goal, he'll do it,” De Leon said. “He has a tremendous drive to compete. Right after his scary head injury, he was back at practice waiting to get medical clearance and got back to playing as soon as he could.”
McKnight: Best player in state
A multi-sport athlete, McKnight became a First Team All-State soccer player as a freshman and a junior. While he played forward and midfield last year, this season he split his time between midfield and sweeper, where he became the state’s second-leading assist maker with 16 assists. The only player ahead of him was teammate Todd Hoagland with 18.
McKnight, an unselfish player who didn’t play offence until high school, scored 12 goals this season, 24 goals in 2009, and 17 as a freshman for a total of 53. Coaches throughout the state praise McKnight’s ability to control the midfield, burst through double coverage, and put the ball in the net.
“Kyle is the best player in the state,” said Nathan Morris, Providence Classical Christian’s coach, on the night his team beat La Conner in the state semi-finals 2-0. “If he had played center mid, I’m not sure we would have won.”
McKnight was named Northwest 2B/1A League Most Valuable Player in the three sports he played in 2009 — soccer, basketball and baseball, which led to his selection as the county’s Athlete of the Year, and soccer’s 2B Player of The Year. This year, he was All-League Co-Player of the Year.
“Kyle is an all-around great kid, and a pleasure to coach,” De Leon said. “He knows what it means to be a teammate. On top of that, he is a great athlete with a combination of pace, skill and intelligence I've never seen before in a high school player.”
Mejlaender: Feared defender
Sten Mejlaender earned honorable mention in 2007 as a freshman midfielder and has been feared ever since. At 5’11 and 180 pounds, Mejlaender is built like a linebacker, and sometimes plays like one too. He is renowned for his ability to beat opponents to the ball, keep it under tremendous pressure, power through triple coverage and line drive the ball at the net. Mejlaender started playing soccer in kindergarten where he was quickly dubbed Rocket Man by his coach. He’s been playing soccer ever since.
A quiet leader, Mejlaender scored nine goals and had six assists this season, making him the team’s third leading scorer, a spot he shared with junior Kory Duran. Like McKnight and Carr, he excels in other sports as well. In addition to his annual All-League honors, Mejlaender was named Defender of the Year by Washington Soccer Central.
“Sten has raw power,” said coach De Leon. “He was the "engine" in a lot of our games, especially towards the end of the season. He really matured this year and came in to his own.”
On Sunday, Carr, McKnight and Mejlaender traded the soccer field for the gym, where they will now play a season of varsity basketball.
As seniors, they will not be returning to the La Conner soccer field next fall.
Says Scott McKnight, who coached the boys in middle school, “The planets just won’t be aligned without Kyle stealing the ball from a forward, passing to Sten who sends a monster cross over to DJ who flicks the ball with his heel past the defense and (into) the net.”