The championship potential is there — seven seniors, an all-star defense, healthy starters and a tradition of collecting state titles. The Vikings have a good shot at regaining their state spotlight this season.
“Based on what I’ve seen the last couple years, all the pieces are there to make another deep run into the postseason,” said new girls soccer coach Jeremy Evans. “It’s rare that you get to inherit such talent, but that’s the standard that Chris (DeLeon) set.”
Despite dealing with smoky air and limited practice time, the skill level and maturity on the soccer field was obvious as the varsity girls scrimmaged the JV team on Wednesday. Starting positions were still unclear, but the Vikings can piece that together during this weekend’s preseason games and in the early weeks.
More telling than the veteran talent and preseason outcomes, however, is the healthy players.
This time last year, the Vikings were already hampered with early season injuries.
As the two-time consecutive state champions, maybe they could have overcome those early hurdles. They did enter the postseason 16-2-1, but a few more late-season injuries put the kibosh on a deep run. The Vikings fell to Puhrump Valley in the state semi-final game.
This year, the Vikings are starting healthy.
Seniors Kelly Colleton and Cassidy Jackson were back on the soccer field after missing last season due to injuries. The two girls are four-year varsity players, and both have the ability to make a big impact on this year’s team.
“They’ve kind of been the symbol of South Tahoe soccer for the past few years, and now they have the opportunity to do something special, which is win three state titles in four years,” Evans said. “Not many players can actually claim that.”
A junior named Allie King will also be a big part of that run.
Name sound familiar? King is the younger sister of last year’s All-State soccer standout Brooke King. And although the younger King played well on varsity last year, this will be the year to watch her come into her own.
“She’s made major strides in the last couple years, and I think she’s going to be one of the more dominant players in this entire region,” Evans said. “She’s an amazing athlete, but the reason why I think she’s going to be so dominate is because she’s so versatile. I mean you could really put her anywhere on the field and she will excel.”
Versatile is a great word to sum up the Vikings’ plans for the approaching season.
Evans is sticking with DeLeon’s playbook, but making some minor tweaks to play up the current team’s strengths.
South Tahoe will still be running with four backs instead of a sweeper, but this year expect to see more aggressive play from the back.
“I want to be more versified in our attacks,” Evans said. “It won’t be predictable, but it will be in our toolbox.”
A strong defense will be a big part of that arsenal. Senior center-backs Riley Chapman and Jensen Smith will be the cornerstones of that defense with their speed and aggressive style. Senior Sarah Higginbotham, and possibly Colleton, will connect it all as outside-backs.
“If you watch any good soccer team it starts from the back centers and pushes out,” Colleton said. “Without defense, the ball doesn’t really start anywhere. Forwards are important of course because they make the goals, but defense really is the base, the building block of the team. You push it forward and build from there.”
FIRST UP: The Vikings will scrimmage strong soccer programs from Casa Grande and Montgomery this weekend. The girls’ first home game will be against Fernley at 5 p.m. on Thursday at South Tahoe Middle School.
“Based on what I’ve seen the last couple years, all the pieces are there to make another deep run into the postseason.”
South Tahoe soccer coach