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Ritchie shares honor for boys

Make no mistake, opposing boys soccer teams know who Bryn Ritchie is.

The South Medford senior forward has been such a force this season thatany team foolish enough not to pay him close attention has quickly regrettedit.

Even those who were wise enough to double-team him didn't have much successin stopping him.

In 11 regular-season games, Ritchie scored 19 goals and dished off 12assists. In three playoff wins, he has added four more goals and four assists.The amount of attention he attracts from opposing teams has also openedthe door for numerous other South players to have big seasons.

My deal with Bryn is that if they are marking him with two players-- that's still not enough, South Medford coach Wally Hicks says.Bryn is a huge part of our team. As much as anything else, Bryn hasto be the focus of the other team. If that many people are looking at Bryn,they don't see someone else.

That kind of presence was recognized last week when the Southern OregonConference coaches voted Ritchie and Grants Pass midfielder Jeremy DeGucco-players of the year.

Bryn is by far the best player in the league, says Hicks.He adds that a two-game suspension Ritchie earned for undisclosed disciplinaryreasons was the reason his star player had to share the honor.

Bryn is a really smart player. He's got great body control andgreat speed. He's got all the stuff.

Ritchie says he plans to play college soccer but has yet to decide ona school. Santa Clara, Stanford and Washington have shown interest.

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior was one of five players to make the firstteam from South, which won the SOC for a third straight season by going8-0. The second-ranked Panthers (14-1-1) beat Mountain View 3-0 on Tuesdayto advance to Saturday's state final against South Eugene at WilsonvilleHigh.

The other South players named to the first team were senior forward TylerHoffbuhr, senior defender Danny Lupes, senior midfielder Shave Neville andsenior goalie Chad Warren.

Ritchie says his success is a direct result of the high-quality playersaround him.

People on my team allow me to do my job and score, Ritchiesays.

DeGuc, a third-team all-state pick as a junior last year, scored sevengoals and had 12 assists for Grants Pass, which finished sixth in the SOCat 4-4. But Cavemen coach Scott Gottula says those statistics don't beginto reveal DeGuc's value.

Jeremy's big strength is his possession ability, Gottulasays. He can control the ball and distribute it really well.

Gottula says DeGuc, who plans to play at a junior college next year,started most of Grants Pass' attacks and was often two touches from thescore -- robbing him of assists.

DeGuc got to showcase his offensive skills late in the season when Gottulamoved him to forward.

When we moved him up to forward he started scoring in flurries,almost at will, Gottula says.

Klamath Union, which finished second in the SOC at 7-1, placed threeplayers on the first team in freshman defender Alex Casey, senior midfielderWill Fridinger and senior forward Todd Yee. Pelicans coach Gerrit deGrootwas honored as coach of the year.

North Medford, the SOC's fourth-place team at 5-3, placed two playerson the first team in senior defender Chris Endrikat and senior defenderPaul Thielemann.

Other first-teamers included Ashland senior midfielder Yu Kuwabara andGrants Pass forward Geovanny Turnbull.

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