Josh Phillips has ambitions of playing professional soccer after college, and he appears on his way to achieving that goal.
Phillips, a 2010 Capital High graduate and senior-to-be at Gonzaga, played his first season with Sounders U-23, a Tacoma-based developmental team for Seattle Sounders FC that wrapped up its season Tuesday night at Portland. The Sounders compete in the United Soccer League’s Premier Development League (PDL), the top U-23 men’s league in North America.
The defender played in six games, including Saturday’s 3-3 draw with the Kitsap Pumas. Phillips scored his first goal of the season against the Pumas.
“It’s been awesome playing with players from all across the nation,” said Phillips, an 18-game starter for the Zags last season.
This isn’t Phillips’ first experience with a PDL team but
his first with Sounders U-23. His previous team was the Washington Crossfire, which is in the same division as the Sounders.
Sounders U-23 have tryouts, but Phillips was lucky enough to be selected personally by coach Darren Sawatzky, also the Seattle Sounders FC director of youth development.
He acknowledged the difference in competitiveness and professionalism and the esteem of being connected to the MLS squad. The U-23 team also features Yelm High grad Miguel Gonzalez, a senior-to-be at Seattle University, at forward and Saint Martin’s graduate Zac Lubin, who started five games in goal.
“There’s not anybody that’s just there to kick the ball around and have fun,” Phillips said. “Every one of us wants to be a professional soccer player. It’s been awesome.”
Phillips has gotten a full taste of the Cascadia rivalry, too, when the U-23s traveled to Portland’s Jeld-Wen Field in the season-opening game May 16 against the Timbers U-23. The Sounders lost, 2-0, in front of more than 5,000 fans, and Phillips said his nerves calmed as the game began.
Sounders U-23 finished 4-5-4 and out of the playoffs.
“This is the best soccer experience I’ve had so far,” he said.
HAMLIN RECEIVES NATIONAL PRAISE
Ronnie Hamlin, a 2009 Timberline High graduate and senior-to-be linebacker at Eastern Washington, is one of 20 players on the watch list for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the top defensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
Hamlin is a 22-game starter for the Eagles and has amassed 221 career tackles, which ranks 22nd in school history.
Knee injuries wiped out his first two seasons, including the school’s national championship season in 2010.
Last season, he earned fourth-team All-America honors by Phil Steele Publications and was a first-team all-Big Sky performer, starting all 14 games and helping Eastern to the FCS semifinals.
He finished with 136 tackles, which is the fifth-best mark in school history.
Hamlin, The Olympian’s All-Area football player of the year in 2008, also has been named a first-team preseason All-American by Beyond Sports Network and on the watch list for College Football Performance Linebacker Award.
DRAWN FROM VANCOUVER
Aaron Landon’s inaugural recruiting class for South Puget Sound Community College men’s basketball continues to grow, and from a familiar region – Southwest Washington.
Landon has signed three players for the 2013-14 season, adding Skyview High School players Austin Bonds and Keegan Liebelt. The pair join Union High graduate Chris Williams, who was Landon’s first signee last month.
STATE CHAMPS JOIN SAINT MARTIN’S TRACK
Eight athletes signed letters of intent to compete for Saint Martin’s University for the 2013-14 indoor and outdoor track and field seasons, including a pair of state champion throwers.
Shot putter Mitch Wilkens from Willamette High School in Eugene, Ore., was the Class 5A state champion (51 feet, 111/2 inches), and Taholah’s Joseph Winn won the Washington Class 1B state title in the discus (141-10).
New Saint Martin’s volleyball coach Kara Peterson, who spent 16 years as the coach at Black Hills High School, hired Kelly Kavanaugh as her assistant coach. Kavanaugh spent the 2012 season as a volunteer assistant coach at Alaska Anchorage. He previous experience was as a high school coach and club volleyball director in Alaska. ... Black Hills graduate Cody Peterson, an incoming senior, was named captain of Navy’s football team. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound linebacker started the final eight games of 2012, finishing with 67 tackles. He helped the Midshipmen to their second bowl game in three years, the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, in December. ... Portland Community College hired Olympia native Jeff Pasquariello as its women’s basketball coach. Pasquariello was an all-league player at Olympia High School, graduating in 2006, and also played at Evergreen.Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com theolympian.com/southsoundsports @megwochnick