Trout Lake's Mustangs are champing at the bit to make another run at a Greater Columbia B League championship and a berth in the state B/1A playoffs.
They'll have to go the distance without last year's leading goal-scorer, Mike Hansen, and starting midfielder Elliott Sherburne, both of whom graduated.
But the Mustangs, under new head coach Robert Schmid, should have enough firepower in stock to fill the breech and challenge last season's school-record of 14 victories.
Leading the way in 2004 will be a strong cast of returning lettermen that includes seniors Peter Schmid, Kris Huffsmith, Mark Poland, Ben Steward, Matt Dearden, Adam Paxson, Ian Smith and Tony Leslie.
Also back are juniors Dale Dick and Aaron Schmid, and sophomores Tim Dearden, Michael Paxson and Jesus Sanchez. Among the newcomers who could have an impact is Sebastian Villar, an exchange student from Uruguay.
"The seniors are the core of this team," said Schmid, "and we have real good speed. We also have of versatility in that we have several players who can play more than one position. Because of that, we can score from just about anywhere on the field."
Trout Lake proved that in its first two matches of the season--both home-field victories.
The Mustangs got goals from three different players in their season-opening 5-1 win against North Clackamas Christian, Ore., Sept. 7.
Huffsmith and Villar each scored two goals that day. Steward was the top playmaker, recording three assists. Poland had a goal and an assist. Overall, the Mustangs attempted 17 shots.
Last Friday against Corbett, Ore., the Mustangs put 26 shots on goal and four Trout Lake players hit the back of the net in the 4-1 decision.
Matt Dearden, Huffsmith and Dale Dick all got into the scoring column in the first half to stake the Mustangs to a 3-0 lead at halftime. Poland got credit for two assists, Steward one.
In the second half, Steward added a goal off a rebound in front of a crowded net to cap Trout Lake's scoring.
However, goalkeeper Mike Paxson, who finished with seven saves, lost his shutout when Corbett's Jacob Soulagnet scored off a pass from Craig Schaaf in the late going.
Trout Lake hosts Valley Christian and Evergreen Lutheran this weekend before beginning defense of its Greater Columbia B League title on Sept. 21 at Riverside Christian.
All told, the Mustangs will play 16 regular-season matches in 2004. Nine of those will be league contests (three each versus Riverside Christian, Sunnyside Christian and Moses Lake Christian).