Lake Tahoe CC women’s soccer reveals 2016 recruiting class, looks to build with talented, versatile group
The Lake Tahoe Community College women’s soccer program had different coaches in each of its first two seasons, and effectively started over each year. This has made recruiting — and building a program — a challenge for the Coyotes.
Jeremy Evans debuted as Lake Tahoe’s head coach last season, and quickly put together a team in the four months leading up to the 2015 campaign. Headed into the 2016 season, he has had a full year to recruit players — and the result is a talented incoming group.
“With the talent coming in, there’s expectations and pressure,” Evans said. “Winning is important, but I think winning with the right people is more important — and all of these girls fit that.”
Lake Tahoe recently finalized its 2016 recruiting class, the first full class during Evans’ tenure as head coach. The group currently features 13 incoming freshmen and one committed junior college transfer — though it will be someone that won’t see the field has been instrumental to Evans through the recruiting process.
“The most important recruit has been my wife, because she’s allowed me to get the actual recruits that are going to play and has been a big support in this,” Evans said. “This has been a laborious process since I got the job last April.”
Four of the Coyotes’ incoming freshmen are staying close to home next season. Kenya Maltase, Alejandra Gutierrez, Natalie Reber and Stacy Vasquez all graduated from South Tahoe in 2015 and each will play at LTCC this fall, continuing the link between the local high school and college programs in a talent-rich area.
“South Tahoe has been one of the most competitive, successful and accomplished high school programs in the state of Nevada,” said Evans, who was head coach at STHS from 2013-2014. “Having that in our backyard and connecting it to LTCC is huge.”
Maltase is the headliner of LTCC’s recruiting class, ranked fifth all-time in Nevada in career scoring after three seasons at Whittell and one at South Tahoe. Pursued by a number of four-year colleges during her high school career, the talented forward will have the chance to shine at home in South Lake Tahoe.
“My goal is to help build the program and have an influence on the other local girls here to see that it’s OK to stay home and play, and advance on after that,” Maltase said. “I turned down other offers to stay here and expand my horizons on where to play.”
Reber anchored the defense of the Vikings’ Div. I-A state runner-up last season and graduated from South Tahoe in three years, Gutierrez provides versatility at midfield and forward while Vasquez missed part of last season with an injury and can make an impact on the outside. All three played multiple seasons for the Vikings.
“I’m excited to play with my friends and help establish the program,” Reber said. “We can make a name for ourselves and make South Lake Tahoe a well-known soccer city.”
“Being able to come and play at LTCC is great because you see girls come from different places that want to live in Tahoe and play soccer here,” Vasquez added. “It’s great that we get the opportunity to do it in our hometown.”
Evans and current South Tahoe head coach Mark Salmon each coach each have ties to South Tahoe Futbol Club, the club soccer program based on the South Shore. And with Evans at the helm, LTCC plans to continue to have a connection to soccer at STHS and in the Tahoe Basin.
“It’s huge and it’s going to create continuity between recreation, club, the high school and the college,” Salmon said. “For our small town, it’s difficult to catapult into those high-level collegiate programs — Jeremy is providing a bridge.”
Seven players from the Coyotes’ recruiting class hail from Nevada, including defender Caitlyn Bidart from Douglas (Minden), and defender Nahim Gutierrez-Flores and midfielder Alondra Mata from Carson (Carson City). Midfielder Madison Andreozzi from Elko rounds out the Northern Nevada contingent.
“We want this to be the place to play in the Reno-Tahoe region if you don’t get to that four-year school out of high school,” Evans said. “I want this to be the place they land, and so far that is happening.”
Las Vegas players in the class feature midfielder Victoria Sanchez from Silverado and a pair of Canyon Springs teammates — midfielder Vanessa Acosta and forward Yareli Trujillo. Defender Megan Masters hails from San Francisco and played at both Lincoln and Academy of Arts and Sciences, while British midfielder Rebecca Niblett is coming to South Lake Tahoe from across the pond.
The Coyotes’ lone committed junior college transfer is Mildred Gomez, who played at Chabot College (Hayward, Calif.) last season. Brittney Hubberts, who played for LTCC as a freshman in 2014, will return for the Coyotes and play as a sophomore this season.
“I am looking for girls that are here to play soccer, are focused on school — and that’s what is happening next year,” Evans said. “I think their names are going to be synonymous with LTCC soccer and how great it’s going to be.”
LTCC’s 2016 recruits join 10 freshmen returning for a second season with the program, playing key roles on a team that finished 6-11-1 in Evans’ first year as head coach. That group includes leading scorer Shawa Guerrero-Escobedo and South Shore products Gisselle Benitez, Kendall Eagan, Valeria Garcia and Alicia Rea.
“Based on the girls that are coming back, the JC transfers we’re going to get and these talented incoming freshmen, we’re really mixing in some important ingredients,” Evans said. “The excitement is here and it’s bubbling.”
Lake Tahoe opens its 2016 campaign with an exhibition match against Div. II San Francisco State on Aug. 19. The Coyotes’ regular season opener is scheduled for Aug. 27 at home against Cosumnes River College (Sacramento, Calif.).