Say the name "Lyssand" to any longtime Peninsula soccer fan and the name will get instant recognition.
The Lyssand family is the premiere soccer family on the Peninsula. Four Lyssand brothers starred at Woodside High School over the last 15 years: From Johan and Lars to Sven and Kristian.
It is the love of the game of soccer that led Sven and Kristian Lyssand to lace up their boots for the Canada College team this year. How else to explain a former football place kicker (Sven) and a disillusioned Division I player (Kristian) who both thought their college soccer careers were done?
The youngest of the Lyssand clan, Sven, 24, and Kristian, 22, had never played with each other because of the age difference, save for a year on Sven's under-18 club team and on recreation adult teams.
"We played together a little on my club team," Sven Lyssand said. "He (Kristian) didn't play a lot. My dad had him on the team for the experience. We played on an adult-league team, but those guys weren't really serious."
The fact that either of them are with the Colts is an interesting story individually. Sven played soccer and football at Woodside before graduating in 2001, but believed he was a little further along in football and joined the College of San Mateo football team. He handled the kicking chores for the Bulldogs for two years, earning all-conference honors in 2003. He transferred to San Jose State, didn't quite finish his degree, joined his father's construction company and got married. The thought of playing high-level soccer was not something he seriously contemplated.
"I wasn't thinking about it," Sven said. "I have an older brother (Lars) who is a professional. I know how hard he's had to work and what it takes to play at the highest level."
Kristian Lyssand, meanwhile, graduated from Woodside in 2002. He joined the Canada squad for a year in 2004, sat out 2005 to recover from knee surgery and enrolled at Cal State Northridge in the fall of 2006 with a chance to make the team.
At least he thought. He was called in for a tryout but instead of training with the team it was an open tryout -- with about 20 other players, most of whom had no shot at making the squad. Just before the start of the spring semester, the coaching staff told him to come out to spring training but with the late notice, Kristian didn't have time to rearrange his class schedule.
"Practice took up half the day. It was definitely frustrating," Kristian said. "I knew I could make the squad if I could have tried out with the team."
Kristian had given up hope of making the Northridge squad by the end of the school year.
Enter Canada coach Kurt Devlin. He was talking with one of the Lyssand's cousins in July and told him to tell Sven to come out for the team.
"I knew he didn't play (soccer) anywhere," Devlin said. "I knew he had eligibility. That was my understanding.
"I think the appeal was to come together. It's the only opportunity to play soccer together at a somewhat high level."
A California community college rule says an athlete has two years of eligibility in any sport they have not played at the college level. In Sven's case, despite playing two years of football at CSM, he still had two years of soccer eligibility at the community college level.
After weighing all the factors, Sven decided to play. He then started working on getting Kristian back with the Colts.
"During the summer, I made the decision," Sven said. "I had some general ed classes to get out of the way, I get to save some money and play with my brother.
"I had to take him (Kristian) out to dinner to recruit him."
Kristian said the chance to play with his brother was the deciding factor in his return to Canada.
"I would have been done at Northridge," Kristian said.
The Lyssands are more than just a feel-good story. They can play the game. Their father moved to the United States in the mid-1960s from Norway and met their mother, who had moved from Sweden in the late 1950s. He was a ski jumper and skier who played soccer on the side in Norway. When he got to the United States, his focus turned to soccer for obvious reasons. She ran track and played field hockey in Sweden.
"Our dad was really good," Sven said. "We always thought all the stories he told were lies but mom backed him up."
The Lyssands' athletic ability cannot be overstated. Johan Lyssand was a outstanding place kicker for Fresno State. Lars Lyssand was a standout soccer player at San Jose State, who was recently named to the 15th anniversary team of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference. The Lyssand extended family is also pretty good. Kristian said that they formed an adult-league team of mostly family and close friends and entered a tournament in Santa Cruz. Despite having limited practice, the team advanced to the semifinals.
"We played really well together," Kristian said. "If we started a team (of our family) it would be really solid."
Both Sven and Kristian are hoping that the Colts can be a solid unit this season.
Nathan Mollat can be reached by e-mail: email@example.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 117.