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Thursday, May 4, 2006 - Page updated at 05:38 PM

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Prep Beat: Hale junior's game grows in Sweden

Special to The Seattle Times

Metro League boys soccer opponents are probably wondering who this talented new forward is, scoring goals at a breakneck pace for Nathan Hale High School.

His name is Eric Guttorp, but he's not new to the area.

Guttorp, 16, attended high school and played with the highest-level U-16 club soccer team in Sweden last year. He is twice the player he was as a 5-foot-3, 115-pound freshman who had three goals and three assists for Hale in 2004.

"As a freshman, I was a lot smaller," said Guttorp, now 5-7 and 150. "The higher level teams [in Sweden] were a lot more serious and a lot better. ...

"I don't think many people knew about me as a freshman. So, this year a lot of people probably thought, 'Where'd he come from to begin with?' "

Guttorp has 21 goals and three assists this season. Nathan Hale (8-4-3 overall, 5-0-1 league) won the Metro League Sound Division championship.

Peter Guttorp, who grew up in Sweden, took a job teaching at the Lund University last year and brought his wife, June Morita, and sons Eric and Kenji, 11, and daughter Emiko, 7.

"My dad thought it would be a good experience for us," said Eric Guttorp, who also lived in Sweden for five months during fourth grade.

"This year, his skill is a little more fine-tuned and he's got a little more of a powerful kick," Nathan Hale coach Tony Alconcher said of Guttorp. "He's fast, but he's kind of overpowering when he gets the ball. ... He's developed a nice power kick."

Seattle Prep's Johnsen living the life

Some great soccer players eventually achieve rock-star status. Seattle Prep junior Erik Johnsen is getting a taste of both lives now.

The 16-year-old Johnsen, a member of the U.S. national team U-18 player pool, plays with a rock band that entertains at parties, school assemblies and school "Battle of the Bands" competitions. He plays bass guitar for the D Street A's and helps them create their own music.

The 5-10, 155-pound Johnsen also has been entertaining on the soccer pitch in Metro League matches, scoring 12 goals and dishing out one assist. He mainly plays forward and midfielder, but sometimes anchors the defense.

"Erik is a fine young talent that comes along every once in a while," said Prep coach Dick Sandstrom, in his 31st year leading the program. "I've been lucky to get three or four players like that. He's in the top five players I've coached at Prep."

The Panthers (5-8-2, 3-5-1 Metro) have nailed down the fourth and final playoff spot in the Mountain Division. Prep concludes the regular season at 3:30 p.m. today against O'Dea at Interbay Stadium.

Seattle Prep will meet the Mountain Division's No. 2 seed — Bishop Blanchet or Lakeside — in a loser-out, first-round Metro tournament match Monday at 5:30 p.m. at Interbay.

Note

• Sammamish High seniors Danny and Thomas Bright have signed to play basketball at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore. Thomas is a two-time All-KingCo 3A first-team selection, and Danny was a second-team choice last season.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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