Warriors dealing with departures from program
August 21, 2009
Steve Maltase wasn’t expecting to go through a rebuilding year in 2009.
That was before several key athletes decided to transfer or drop out of soccer before Whittell High School’s season.
“We lost a lot of good athletes, and it’s frustrating,” the Whittell High coach said. “We can’t have specialized athletes in a little school of 190 kids.”
Junior Cody Williams has transferred to South Tahoe after being one of the Warriors’ top scoring threats in his first two seasons. Also deciding not to return to the program are second-team all-Tahoe 3A League goalie Alex Potnick, junior Alex Vogt and sophomore Jake Williams.
“We’ll have two or three seniors, so this year will be a building block for next year,” Maltase said. “We’ll be competitive, but it’s going to be a little bit of a rebuilding year.”
Despite the departures, the program still has a number of talented returners.
Recommended Stories For You
Maltase can build the defense around senior outside defender Kyler Felton, a state champion in track and field; junior sweeper Blake Werle; and junior stopper Kenny Boulet.
Werle and junior midfielder Trevor Fairbank, who had nine goals and six assists, each earned league honorable mention a year ago. Junior Jess Latta will also be in the playing mix.
“I played defense all my life; it’s what I do,” Werle said. “I’m excited this year. We have new kids, and I get to learn how to play with them.”
The loss of four key players was neutralized by the return of junior T.J. Kolesnik to the program, and the surprise turnout of cross country star Adam Kingman.
“He’s a welcomed addition,” Maltase said. “He has good speed, endurance and skill.”
Freshman twins Austin and Marshall Neil and Anders Chaplin, also a freshman, probably won’t have to wait long to make their varsity debuts.
Developing a new goalie will be one of the team’s most important preseason projects. Potnick recorded six shutouts last season, and the Northern 3A League is loaded with talented offensive teams.
“We have to train younger kids to play in a big league. That’s going be shocking to them,” Werle said.
Even so, Maltase isn’t worried. Assistant coach Patrick Kelly is a former Division I lacrosse player at Towson University in Maryland and a former goalkeeper.
“He has some good credentials, so I’m pretty confident he’ll be able to develop a keeper for us,” Maltase said.
For once, Whittell will have ample time to prepare for its demanding league. Unlike past seasons, the Warriors’ league games are toward the end of the season.
“We’ll just be patient and try to improve,” Maltase said. “The later start for league will give everybody a chance to get going.”
Maltase expects the league’s top four teams to be tough as usual. “Sparks and Incline are senior-oriented, so I think they’ll be the favorites. Truckee is always good, and North Tahoe is always competitive.”
Added Werle, “It’s a younger team this year. We lost a lot of starters. But I think it will be better, because we still have the same core team.”