Lake Tahoe Community College Coyote men plan to vie for Golden Valley Conference title | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Lake Tahoe Community College Coyote men plan to vie for Golden Valley Conference title

Lake Tahoe Community College's Ben Forder pushes upfield during an early August practice.
Bill Rozak / Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The Lake Tahoe Community College men’s soccer program is poised at a run for a Golden Valley Conference title.

The Coyotes reached the Northern California regional final four last year and return the conference player of the year and have added height and talent all around the field.

The program was sanctioned earlier this year and is serving a two-year postseason ban, but that hasn’t zapped the team’s effort and energy in trying to fight for their first league title in four years.

The Coyotes, who finished last year at 13-8-3, are ranked No. 14 in the United Soccer Coaches Top 20 NJCAA DIII Men’s poll.

“We are determined to win the program’s first conference title since 2015, live in the national rankings and hopefully just be part of that conversation,” said first-year men’s coach Jeremy Evans. “The bond between this group seems to be very strong, and they are focused on achieving things together. They all love the game, they’re hungry to perform and get better, and they are very fit and determined.”

Sophomore Niko Dongmann is the returning player of the year in the GVC and Evans said he looks poised for a big season.

Dongmann scored the fifth most goals (10) and had the fifth most points (28) in the conference last year.

And after a few practices, Evans says Washington native Ben Forder has impressed the coaches with his athleticism and dynamic ability on the ball.

Evans also said returners Joel Garcia, Jaffet Corona and Juan Estrella have all come in fit and ready to play.

“Forder just provides a different look that hasn’t been in this program,” Evans said. “But so far, it’s a highly coachable group. Lots of fun pieces to work with, and it’s all about what puzzle we can create.”

Evans also likes his back line and midfield. His challenge is finding the right, most effective combinations.

He’s high on Matt Beasley who came to Tahoe from CSU Northridge and also “Yogi” Jonathan Mendoza. But Mendoza suffered an injury and won’t be available so the competition is on.

“Beasley is calm and smooth on the ball and has excellent size at 6-foot-5,” Evans said.

Alex Chavarria from Las Vegas, and Tahoe locals and sophomores Julio Loera and Brandon Estrada, both have looked sharp so far, according to Evans.

The midfielders are making life difficult for Evans.

After the first week of practice Evans recognized he is blessed with talent and has options.

“There are more question marks than answers, but not because they aren’t great but because only a few can start and it’s my job to illustrate my expectations and for somebody to meet them,” Evans said. “And of course they all have, so this is going to be a fun group to work with. The central midfield is a work in progress but in a good way … great ability but different qualities.”

The Coyotes open the season at 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30, against Folsom Lake College on their home field.

They also play Evergreen Valley College at home the next day at 1:30 p.m.