Tryouts big test for South Tahoe soccer hopefuls
The playing field is wide open at the South Tahoe High School soccer tryouts.
With the majority of both soccer team’s seniors gone, the coaches are looking for younger players to step up and fill the vacancies. Tryouts for both teams end today after a two-week battle between underclassmen for the open spots.
The two-time state champions took a big hit this year, losing nine graduating seniors, six of which were starters. That’s half a state championship team gone in the blink of an eye but, in the world of high school sports, this is nothing new.
The team still carries a sprinkling of veterans, namely forward Brooke King, goalie Alejandra Orozco and midfielders Alisa Caro and Cassidy Jackson, but head coach Chris DeLeon is looking to the underclassmen to fill the void in defense.
“There’s a lot of opportunity for these girls to step up and see who’s going to fill these spots,” DeLeon said.
Being physically smaller is nothing new for Tahoe teams, and the girls soccer team has always found a way to sneak around it.
We’re probably the shortest team out there so our intelligence on the field has to compensate for bigger teams like Elko and Fallon,” DeLeon said.
Playing smart is something these girls do well together since they’ve been teammates since their days in Associated Youth Soccer Organization, DeLeon said. The chemistry on the field is almost second nature and one of the team’s strongest assets.
“Our possession of ball has always been really good; combine that with their chemistry and intelligence on the field and we’re still looking pretty strong,” DeLeon said.
The chemistry will have to go a long way because DeLeon knows opposing teams will save their best fight for South Tahoe.
“We’re always going to have a target on our back. South Tahoe is always going to be that school,” DeLeon said. “We’re playing in a Nevada league and we’re a California school and we’re also State Champions.”
If the girls team losing nine seniors seems tough, just imagine how the boys team feels after losing 19 seniors on the heels of a playoff season.
“We talked through the years about rebuilding years and this is, plain and simple, a rebuilding year. We have just a few seniors,” assistant coach Bill Spicer said. “We’ve got a great crop of freshman coming in so that’s encouraging for the future and, who knows, the future could be tomorrow.”
What the younger guys lack in size they seem to make up for with footwork and a take-no-prisoners attitude as they battle it out on the tryout field.
“There is not one single spot from keeper to forward that is settled. Every single spot is open and anybody could take it any day,” Spicer said.
It will take a positive attitude to win a spot on the team, Spicer said, and then keep that spot through the trials and tribulations the boys will certainly face through the season.
“We’re going to have a lot. We’re a young team and we’ll have a lot and that’s OK. That’s what we’re here for,” Spicer said.
Center midfielder Rodolfo Castillo is one of five remaining seniors on the team and said he noticed the positive attitude the younger guys brought to tryouts.
“We have a lot of freshman,” Castillo said, “but they aren’t scared.”
Spicer will look to Castillo to be a big contributor and leader on the field this season. Castillo will have help offensively from Johnny Mendoza, Diego Garcia and Carlos Martinez. Defensively, the Vikings will look to David Rodriguez, Ozzy Rosas and Christian Navarro. Alvaro Orozco and Kyle Hannah will share keeper duties.
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