Liberty soccer grad suits up for local PDL team

July 2, 2015

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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When Liberty High School boys soccer coach Darren Tremblay reflects on the Patriots’ 2014 team, he remembers the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

Colton Ronk

Colton Ronk

The Patriots won the Class 3A/2A KingCo regular-season title, but couldn’t make it back to the state playoffs after faltering in the conference tournament.

Still, if it weren’t for the leadership of standout midfielder Colton Ronk, Liberty likely wouldn’t have enjoyed the success it did, Tremblay said.

“I was thinking to myself, if we hadn’t had him, we probably would’ve been maybe third in the league at best. I mean he was that impactful for us,” he said.

Ronk was literally all-everything for the Patriots. His list of postseason accolades was long and storied.

It started with the KingCo 3A/2A Most Valuable Player Award, and grew to include The Seattle Times’ All-Area team and the Washington State Soccer Coaches Association’s All-State first team.

After graduating in 2014, Ronk enrolled at Highline College in Des Moines, where he helped the junior-college soccer team win the Northwest Athletic Conference title last fall.

This summer, Liberty fans can find Ronk playing in familiar territory, as he suits up for the Issaquah-based Puget Sound Gunners FC. The Gunners play in the Premier Development League, widely considered the country’s best stop for top-level men’s amateur soccer competition.

The league offers elite college players the opportunity to taste a higher level of competition while maintaining their eligibility. Many Major League Soccer draftees have prior PDL experience.

By Greg Farrar Colton Ronk (10), Liberty High School senior midfielder in 2014, contends for the ball against Colton Oord (left) and Aaron Baumgardner, of Mount Si, in front of the Wildcats goal during a soccer match.

By Greg Farrar
Colton Ronk (10), Liberty High School senior midfielder in 2014, contends for the ball against Colton Oord (left) and Aaron Baumgardner, of Mount Si, in front of the Wildcats goal during a soccer match.

Ronk heard about the opportunity from coaches, who urged him to try out for the squad. The converted defender impressed Gunners head coach Alex Silva enough to make the team.

“I like his simplicity on the back,” Silva said. “He did very well in the tryouts, and he’s still very young. I think as a prospect, he has a lot of room to grow … but I think he’ll fit in fine. I’m looking forward to giving him the opportunity.”

The Gunners play their home games at Issaquah High School. Their opponents include MLS-affiliated teams, including the Seattle Sounders FC U-23s and the Portland Timbers U-23s.

Ronk said he’s hoping to use this summer as a chance to get better, while he tries to mold himself into a future force at the NCAA Division I or II level.

“My goal is to get some good practice, train at the highest level and compete with the best,” he said.

Ronk still hangs out with many of the Liberty soccer players, even attending a few games this season. He admitted he missed getting out on the pitch with his fellow Patriots.

His old high-school coach has no doubts, though, that Ronk will find a way to reach all of his soccer goals.

“He was a huge, huge impact for us,” Tremblay said. “He’s got everything. He’s got the physique, he’s got the height, the vision, the touch. I think he’ll do just fine.”

Learn more about the Puget Sound Gunners at www.pugetsoundgunnersfc.com.

Reporter Neil Pierson contributed to this report.

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