Lake Tahoe Community College Lady Coyotes enter 2019 season loaded with talent

Lake Tahoe CC sophomore Isabella Wakeling makes a pass at practice earlier this year.
Bill Rozak / Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Jeremy Evans looked around at his Lady Coyotes after one of the first few practices and shook his head.

The Lake Tahoe Community College head coach has some tough decisions to make when it comes to the two-time defending Golden Valley Conference champs.

“The talent in the program has increased in two years,” Evans said recently. “We have a (preseason) game on Thursday (Aug. 15) and I literally have no idea how we’re going to distribute minutes. We’re blessed with talent at every position. That’s what preseason is about.”

Lake Tahoe enters the season nationally ranked No. 4 in the United Soccer Coaches Top 20 NJCAA DIII poll.

That lofty ranking comes on the heels of the Coyotes reaching the state championship game last year where they suffered their only loss of the season.

The Coyotes surrendered just two goals in league the past two seasons, one in each undefeated league year. It’s frightening to think they could be even better this year.

“For the first time since I’ve been here, we can go deep into the bench and shouldn’t experience a drop-off in talent,” Evans said. “It’ll be a fun year and I’ve explained to the group that we can’t think ahead. Last year’s team is why we’re ranked to start the season, but this team hasn’t accomplished anything. We need to create our own identity and our own path, but if we do that, we will be successful.”

Evans is excited about his whole team, but in particular three players who redshirted last year, Jenny Camacho, Melanie Ara and Zareli Villa. All three were all-conference performers in 2017 with Zareli leading the conference in goals that season.

The Coyotes also return their top two scorers from last year, Emily Roberts and Lauren Wolcott.

Roberts was third in the state in goals (30) and fourth in overall points (67) while Wolcott punched in 14 goals and had six assists for a total of 36 points.

And a local incoming freshman, Lillie McGuire, a South Tahoe graduate in June, has impressed Evans.

“I think we will be more dynamic in attack and in the midfield this year,” Evans said. “We have size and speed and some pieces we didn’t have the last two years in those positions. I think we can win in multiple ways this season. Doesn’t mean we will, but we have some combinations we didn’t have the past few seasons.

“Having Lauren back is a true blessing,” Evans added. “She brings toughness and leadership and maturity to our squad. We still need to find some other team leaders, but we have lots of candidates. I’ve been particularly impressed with Lillie. She’s poised to have a big year on the backline as she’s shown up fit and motivated to perform.”

The Coyotes will know quickly out of the gate how good they are with eight of nine scheduled non-conference opponents making the playoffs last year, including the top seed from the south, Cerritos, and northern seeds two through four, Folsom Lake, Clovis and Fresno.

All those teams are nationally ranked and three of those clashes are on the road.

“Our players know the deal when they come here: I put together the toughest schedule possible and set the bar high,” Evans said. “That’s what happens in this program. I don’t care if we win every game or lose every game. What I care about is: do we compete? Can we overcome adversity? Can we stick together in tough times instead of break apart? Because to play on the last day of the season, and for this team to reach its potential, every player on our team must love competition and deal with challenges. That mentality starts in training and is created there, it just doesn’t happen magically.”

The Lady Coyotes face Folsom Lake College at home at 4 p.m. Friday, June 30.

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