Cormier excited about ’08 |

Cormier excited about ’08

Jeremy Evans

It isn’t often that a 2A school can lose one of the top players in the country and the coach thinks his team has improved from the previous year. But Whittell High girls’ soccer coach Tony Cormier said that’s exactly the situation the Warriors are in this season after Hannah Daly, a goalie for the United States Under-17 women’s national team, decided to sit out her junior season.

“We lost two seniors (Becca Gardner and Megan Alexander) and Hannah Daly, but I wouldn’t say it’s going to hurt us too much,” Cormier said. “Hannah’s obviously a great player, but we gained more than we lost – and that’s a blessing at a school of this size.

“We have four strong incoming freshman and a strong core of kids who have played together since last year, starting with high school and then in the spring with Elements (club soccer). I see good things this season.”

Led by captains Sasha Rupp, Tierney McKool, Christine Jurzenski and Gabriella Tracy, Whittell returns nine starters from last year’s team that went 14-8-1 last season and lost in the first round of the Northern 3A regional tournament. At goalie, Kendra Nelson, a standout on Cormier’s club team in the spring, will replace Daly.

With talent all over the field, the Warriors expect to advance deep into the postseason, but the players aren’t making any bold predictions just yet. “I think we’re going to have a really good team because we have new players and a lot of other players who are returning that are good,” said Rupp, one of the Northern 3A’s leading scorers last year. “I’d be a little disappointed if we didn’t get into the playoffs, but I think we all would after last season.”

The Warriors finished third in the Tahoe League in 2007 behind perennial powers North Tahoe and Truckee. Whittell, though, earned a tie against Truckee and also defeated Incline.

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“I think the seniors are our biggest strength,” said Tracy, an all-league player last season. “I don’t know much about Truckee and North Tahoe, but they are probably going to be good. Still, playoffs are definitely the goal.”