Talented sophomores lift Whittell soccer’s spirits | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Talented sophomores lift Whittell soccer’s spirits

Jeremy Evans

The good news for the Whittell High boys’ soccer is that it only lost two key players off last year’s team which showed signs of improvement by season’s end.

The bad news is that the Warriors are still in the 3A Tahoe League, which includes defending state champion Truckee and state runner-up North Tahoe.

The Truckee Wolverines went 25-1 and won the school’s sixth boys soccer state title, while the Lakers were 17-4-4 and reached the Nevada 3A championship game before losing 3-1 to rival Truckee. Throw in Incline, which has also won a state title, and up-and-coming Sparks, and Whittell certainly has a challenge to earn one of the league’s four regional playoff bids.

“I think that we have the potential to be pretty good, but it’s going to take some time to become cohesive,” said Steve Maltase, who’s entering his 14th season as the Warriors’ coach. “I think Truckee will be the top team, and then it’s probably between Incline and us for that fourth spot. I don’t think we are predicted to finish fourth, but it would be a big accomplishment for us if we can.”

Despite the difficult league, WHS returns most of its players from last year’s 10-14-3 squad, which went on a three-game winning streak in October and nearly salvaged a 1-1 draw with North Tahoe before the Lakers scored in the 80th minute to pull out a 2-1 victory.

The Warriors have returning leading scorer Cody Williams, who will be the focal point of the attack after setting the school freshman scoring record (17 goals) in 2007. Seniors Mario Olmos and Arturo Mota are expected to solidify the midfield, and Maltase also welcomes Ignacio Calvo, an exchange student from Chile who will also figure into the attack.

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“We’re looking pretty good … we just need some more practice,” Williams said. “We have a lot of forwards right now, but we probably need to develop the wings and our midfield, but I think our team is stronger than last year. This year, everybody is a lot less selfish, and we pass the ball more.”

Defensively, the entire backline returns as does sophomore goalie Alex Potnick, who became the starter by the end of last season and frustrated North Tahoe in Whittell’s 2-1 loss to the Lakers. Sophomore Blake Werle will anchor the defense in front of Potnick.

“I think we’re looking better than we did last year at this time,” said Potnick, one of nine sophomores on the roster. “Our all-around play has improved, but experience is probably our biggest weakness.”

WHS Kicks

Coach: Steve Maltase, 14th year

Last year: 10-14-3, missed regional playoffs

Key returners: Alex Potnick, Cody Williams, Mario Olmos

Key losses: Christian Hernandez, Paul Waite

Opener: Tuesday, Sept. 2 at Incline

2008 WHS Schedule

Date Opponent Time

Sept. 2 Incline 5 p.m.

Sept. 5-6 Del Camp tourney TBA

Sept. 13 Battle Mtn. noon

Sept. 16 No. Tahoe 5 p.m.

Sept. 19 Lowry 5 p.m.

Sept. 23 Sparks 6 p.m.

Sept. 30 Truckee 5 p.m.

Oct. 2 Dayton 4 p.m.

Oct. 4 Yerington 1 p.m.

Oct. 7 Incline 6 p.m.

Oct. 9 Fernley 4 p.m.

Oct. 11 Dayton noon

Oct. 17 Spring Creek 6 p.m.

Oct. 21 No. Tahoe 6 p.m.

Oct. 23 Fernley 6 p.m.

Oct. 25 Sparks 1 p.m.

Oct. 30 Truckee 6 p.m.

Nov. 7-8 Regionals TBA

Nov. 14-15 State TBA

Note: Home games are in bold.