The 2019 Evergreen Premier League season kicks off on Saturday with four games in Bremerton, Puyallup, Yakima and Olympia. The league welcomes their tenth team in their sixth season with Pacific Northwest SC joining. With an even number of teams, the league went from three conferences of three teams to two conferences of five teams. Each team plays their conference opponents twice and then picks up one home and away game against a regional rival. The top two teams from the Cascade and Rainier Conferences advance to the playoffs.
Here is a quick look at each of the Evergreen Premier League teams…
Head coach: Jason Conway
2018 Record: 5-4-1 (2nd place, Cascade Conference)
Playoffs: Lost 3-2 to WA Premier in semifinals
2018 Top Scorer: Richard Henderson (4)
Home Opener: Sunday, May 16 – 6:00 – Civic Stadium
In Jason Conway’s second season at the helm of the Hammers, their squad has a nice mix of new faces and veterans trying to learn and play their style of soccer. They return their leading scorer from last year, long time United star Richard Henderson, along with Dylan Langei, Eduardo Perez and Noe Betancourt Cruz, along with others and will welcome newcomers like Eleazar Galvan and current collegiate players into the mix.
OLY TOWN ARTESIANS (OLYMPIA)
Head Coach: Matt Herrera
2018 Record: 5-3-2 (2nd place, Coastal Conference)
2018 Top Scorer: Christian Segovia & Daniel Gonzalez (4)
Home Opener: Saturday, May 4th – 6:00 – Black Hills HS
The Artesians unveiled new sponsors and new kits recently and have been very active during the offseason building their club. On the field, they return one of their leading scorers: Christian Segovia while former professional Daniel Gonzalez signed with the Sounders U23s. Oly returns a good portion of their squad that posted the league’s third best record, including defenders Nate Boatright and TJ O’Connor.
Head Coach: Omar Lara
2018 Record: 7-2-1 (1st place, Coastal Conference)
Playoffs: Beat Spokane 4-1 in semis, lost 5-1 to WA Premier in finals
2018 Top Scorer: Cody Buchanan (7)
Home Opener: Sunday, May 12th – 6:15 – French Field
The Seattle Stars marched to the EPLWA finals thanks to Cody Buchanan’s seven goals and EPLWA goal record holder Tyler Bjork’s return midseason. Buchanan returns along with a strong group of players that will surely be in the mix once again for the top spot in the league.
Head Coach: Ramiro De La Mora
2018 Record: 3-6-1 (2nd place, Columbia Conference)
2018 Top Scorer: Lenin Guzman (5)
Home Opener: Saturday, May 12th – 2:00 – Edgar Brown Stadium
The Tri-Cities Alliance had an up-and-down season during their first EPLWA experience finishing at 3-6-1 with Lenin Guzman leading them with five goals. This season, they move to the Cascade Conference and will keep their budding rivalry with Yakima United intact with the move and will open their season with the rivalry game. They also move to Pasco and Edgar Brown Stadium for the 2019 season.
Head Coach: Dennis Stevenson
2018 Record: 1-5-4 (3rd place, Columbia Conference)
2018 Top Scorer: Cesar Rodriguez & Alonso Rojas (3)
Home Opener: Saturday, May 4th – 5:00 – Yakima Valley College
Despite just one win last season, Yakima United posted just a -5 goal differential with four draws to their name. The Hoppers played better than their record reflected and will look to improve this season starting with their rivalry game against Tri-Cities Alliance. They move from the scorching turf at Sozo Sports to a grass field at Yakima Valley College this season.
OLY-PEN FORCE (BREMERTON)
Head Coach: Brandon Henry
2018 Record: 3-6-1 (3rd place, Cascade Conference)
2018 Top Scorer: Joe Sammartino (4)
Home Opener: Saturday, May 4th – 3:00 – Gordon Field
Playing in the league’s toughest conference last season, the Oly-Pen Force finished third in the Cascade Conference behind the league champion Washington Premier and wild card winner Bellingham United. Long time head coach Steve Cashmore stepped away from the program and Brandon Henry took over the helm for 2019. And the Force have found a consistent home this season, playing all their home games at Gordon Field in Bremerton.
PACIFIC NORTHWEST SC (TUKWILA)
Head Coach: Pedro Milan
2018 Record: 2019 Expansion Club
2018 Top Scorer: N/A
Home Opener: Saturday, May 18th – 7:00 – Starfire Stadium
PacNW SC, the well established youth program based out of the Starfire complex, teamed with OSA FC to field an NPSL team last season. But PacNW SC ended the relationship and are forging their own path in the EPLWA. It will take a little bit of time to figure out the level and the league, but there is plenty of talent in the Seattle area to go around so don’t be surprised if they are competitive in their first season.
Head Coach: Jesse Retan
2018 Record: 4-6-0 (1st place, Columbia Conference)
Playoffs: Lost to the Seattle Stars 4-1 in the semifinals
2018 Top Scorer: Jake Levine (5)
Home Opener: Saturday, June 15th – 3:30 – Spokane Shadow Polo Grounds
The Spokane Shadow won the Columbia Conference last season behind the strong play of Jake Levine and a group of players that have been in the Shadow program for many years. Because of their status as the club’s U23 team, the team is always young, but always game. They don’t play a home game until June 15th and then play all five of their home games in a row.
Head Coach: Binian Afenegus
2018 Record: 3-7-0 (3rd place, Coastal Conference)
2018 Top Scorer: Brandon Zambrano (3)
Home Opener: Sunday, May 5th – 1:00 – Harmony Sports Complex
After a 3-7-0 finish last season, the Vancouver Victory went back to a familiar face after 2018 head coach Logan Emery stepped down. Binian Afenegus returns to the sideline and brings Stan Rodrigues with him amongst other new coaches. The team will see a lot of turnover from the previous roster, but they had a huge turnout for tryouts and the 2016 champions appear to be poised to take steps toward the top of the table again.
WASHINGTON PREMIER (PUYALLUP)
Head Coach: Roy Lassiter
2018 Record: 9-1-0 (1st place, Cascade Conference)
Playoffs: Beat Bellingham United 3-2 in semis; Beat Seattle Stars 5-1 in finals
2018 Top Scorer: Brandon Madson (10)
Home Opener: Saturday, May 4th – 5:00 – Washington Premier Complex
Behind the tandem of Mike Arguello and Carlos Rodriguez in goal, a solid back line that included Logan Jones, and the league’s Golden Boot winner, Brandon Madson, Washington Premier posted a league best +17 goal differential in the regular season en route to the championship. WA Premier expects to be even better this year with Madson, captain Micah Wenzel and Jones returning and the addition of Eddie Na to the roster, amongst many others.