With the cancelation of the annual Galena Tournament to open the season, Truckee girls soccer coach Katie Jamison feels a little bit in the dark about the rest of the Wolverines’ competitive Northern Division I-A.
After two games, however, she is certain about two things — her Wolverines are contenders, as usual, and so are their rivals from South Lake Tahoe.
“Honestly, I’m not 100 percent sure about the rest of the league because we haven’t faced many teams yet. Normally at the Galena Tournament we get to see a lot of teams,” said Jamison, whose squad, like many others in the area, got off to a slow start due to the unhealthy air quality caused by the Rim fire in Yosemite, which forced the cancelation of the Galena Tournament.
“And you can’t really tell anything from the stats online, because most teams have hardly even played yet. We know South Tahoe definitely will be a competitor, and from what we saw last year, Elko too. But we’ll have to watch and prepare for the other teams.”
The Wolverines are off to a 1-1 start both overall and in league. They earned a spotless 7-0 victory over Lowry last Saturday and lost 2-0 at South Tahoe on Tuesday.
“It’s funny, on Saturday we did everything right, and then Tuesday we hit a little bit of a snag in the plan,” Jamison said. “But the team is coming along really nicely. We have not been this far along this early in the season in a long time. They’re really connecting with each other. But we still have a lot of things to work out.”
Truckee lost eight players from last year’s team, whose season ended with a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to South Tahoe in the regional semifinal round. Yet there’s no reason for concern, Jamison said, as the Wolverines have nine returners and a handful of skilled newcomers.
While the Wolverines graduated the Sierra League’s midfield MVP, Olivia Duner, they return reigning defensive MVP Melisa Pena, a senior, as well as first-team selections Kaylee “Ned” Neill, Sarah Svoboda and Cassandra Sawyer. Senior Quinn Parker returns after earning second team honors last season, while Karina Rivera and Emma Warren both received honorable mention recognition in 2012.
Aside from Truckee’s All-Leaguers, the team also got Claire Roberts back after the senior missed all of last season with a knee injury, while Maison Power returns for her senior year after moving back from Arizona. Jamison said Power was ranked among the top 100 players in the country while playing in Arizona last year.
Sawyer and junior Paulina Thrasher are both capable goalies and have shared time at the position in the early going. Pena, Svoboda and Shannon Cardoza start on defense, while Roberts and junior Lynde Tucker take turns between fullback and forward, Jamison said.
Power can play in the midfield or on defense, and juniors Emma Warren and Tessa Manahan play midfield. Parker, a senior who is one of the fastest sprinters in the state, plays up front with Neill and junior Nichole Graham. Neill, a senior, has a nose for the goal, while Jamison said that Graham “has a crazy knack for being in the right place at the right time.”
Others on the varsity roster include Annika Winans, Lizzie Larkins, Daisy Rivera and Karina Rivera, who is working her way back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered last season. Rivera, Power and Roberts are senior captains, and Cardoza is a junior captain.
With such an abundance of talent, Jamison said the Wolverines do not have to lean on any particular players to carry the load.
“What’s really kind of nice is that we’re evenly distributed on the field, so we’re not relying so heavily on two or three players,” she said. “It’s been difficult to pick an MVP in our first two games because everybody is playing so well.”
Instead of playing in a mixed-division pod system, as was the case the last few seasons, the NIAA separated the Division I-A and Division III schools into their own leagues this year. Truckee will now play each Northern Division I-A school twice during the regular season. But while traditional rivals North Tahoe and Incline are no longer in the Wolverines’ league, the schools will play each other twice anyway in nonleague contests.
“The school rivalries have existed for like 50 years, so we couldn’t let that go,” Jamison said.
Truckee, which last won state in 2009, still owns a Nevada-record eight state championships.