Vikings enter season as division favorite |

Vikings enter season as division favorite

Jeremy Evans

Virginia Loyola, a South Tahoe High senior, controls the ball during a junior varsity and varsity girls' soccer practice at the South Lake Community Playfields.

Jose Gonzalez couldn’t have stepped into a better situation.

The first-year South Tahoe High girls’ soccer coach welcomes back seven starters from last year’s team that went 9-4-1 and advanced to the zone semifinals. His team will also face Sierra Division squads that were either hit hard by graduation or didn’t drastically improve from last year.

Both situations have created lofty expectations for a school usually stuck in the shadow of perennial powers such as Douglas and Carson. Gonzalez’ response? No problem.

“We are probably in better shape than we were last year,” Gonzalez said. “Our chances to go all the way are very good. Right now, I don’t think there isn’t a way we can’t make it to the playoffs and hopefully the finals.”

If the Vikings are to make another playoff run, they will have to fill in the holes left by Nolie Pierini and Megan Roberto. Both were first-team all-league midfielders in 2004 and thrived in their leadership roles. Fortunately for Gonzalez, he was several players to choose from.

Senior defender Courtney Blann, who was named first-team all-league as a junior, and Bailey Flood, a second-team all-league pick as a sophomore, will be the Vikings’ focal points defensively. Flood was a one of three captains last year.

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Also providing a comforting presence in the back will be goalie junior Ellie Vermillion, an honorable mention all-league pick in 2004.

“I think we have a really good team with a lot of good seniors coming back,” said Flood, who will likely play midfield this season. “I don’t know how good we’ll be right away. But by the end of the season I think we’ll have a chance to win it all. We have the potential.”

In the midfield, sophomore Tess Braun, who scored the game-winning goal against Reed in the first round of zone last year, returns along with sophomore Karli Vath and Ashley McGehee, a second-team all-league selection last year.

At forward, Cybil Robinson is expected to have a breakout year. Players such as sophomore defender Janelle Perrasso and senior defender Shannon Siefert are also expected to have big roles.

Even though Gonzalez is still deciding on a few positions, he said it’s a nice problem to have.

“We’re still kind of debating who our other forward is going to be, but we have a very deep bench. We have a lot of players to draw from. That is another nice thing about this team. We have a lot of good players.”

South Tahoe opens the season today in the Galena preseason tournament in Reno. The Vikings will play four games in two days and possibly a fifth if they advance to the championship game Saturday evening.

South Tahoe’s first official game of the season is on Tuesday at Galena, with its division opener scheduled for Sept. 13 against Reno.

The Sierra Division has historically been dominated by Douglas and Carson. The Tigers, though, graduated most of their players and have a new coach now that Fred Schmidt retired after 11 seasons. Schmidt led Douglas to two zone titles and three runner-up finishes during his career, including a loss to South Tahoe in the 1996 regional title game.

The Senators, meanwhile, return some key players but don’t have the overwhelming talent as in years past. The leaves open the possibility that the Vikings could emerge as the division’s top team. South Tahoe is hoping to use this weekend’s preseason tournament as a barometer.

“We’re definitely excited to get out there and see how we compare to the other teams,” Blann said. “Out of all the girls’ teams I’ve seen here, I think this one has the most potential. We definitely feel we can go far in the playoffs again.”

Viking file

Coach: Jose Gonzalez, 1st season

Last year: Went 9-4-1 and advanced to zone semifinals.

Key rerturners: MF Bailey Flood, D Courtney Blann, F Cybil Robinson.

Key to season: Can a talented group of returners duplicate last year’s playoff run and possibly even win school’s first zone title since 1996?

STHS Schedule

Date Opponent Time

Today-Sat. Galena Tournament TBA

Aug. 30 Galena 3 p.m.

Sept. 6 Fallon 3 p.m.

Sept. 10 Damonte 1 p.m.

Sept. 13 Reno 3 p.m.

Sept. 17 Wooster 1 p.m.

Sept. 20 Douglas 3 p.m.

Sept. 24 Carson 1 p.m.

Sept. 26 North Tahoe 3 p.m.

Sept. 27 North Valleys 3 p.m.

Oct. 1 Hug 1 p.m.

Oct. 4 Damonte 3 p.m.

Oct. 8 Reno 1 p.m.

Oct. 11 Wooster 3 p.m.

Oct. 15 Douglas 1 p.m.

Oct. 17 North Tahoe 3 p.m.

Oct. 18 Carson 7 p.m.

Oct. 22 North Valleys 1 p.m.

Oct. 25 Hug 3 p.m.

Oct. 29-Nov. 5 Zone playoffs TBA

Note: Home games in bold.