South Tahoe boys soccer enters 2016 season looking to build for the future with young team |

South Tahoe boys soccer enters 2016 season looking to build for the future with young team

Anthony Gentile
South Tahoe goalkeeper Antony Lopez plays a ball out of the back during a match last season. Lopez is one of the seniors on this year’s Vikings team, which enters the season with a young group.
Anthony Gentile / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

STHS Boys Soccer 2016 Schedule

Aug. 25 vs. North Valleys

Sept. 2 vs. Carson, 5 p.m.

*Sept. 7 vs. Lowry, 5 p.m.

*Sept. 9 at Sparks, 5 p.m.

*Sept. 14 at Incline, 5 p.m.

*Sept. 21 vs. Truckee, 5 p.m.

*Sept. 23 at Elko, 5 p.m.

*Sept. 24 at Spring Creek, noon

*Sept. 28 vs. Fallon, 5 p.m.

*Sept. 30 at North Tahoe, 5 p.m.

*Oct. 5 at Lowry, 4 p.m.

*Oct. 8 vs. Sparks, noon

*Oct. 12 vs. Incline, 4 p.m.

*Oct. 19 at Truckee, 4 p.m.

*Oct. 21 vs. Elko, 4 p.m.

*Oct. 22 vs. Spring Creek, noon

*Oct. 25 at Fallon, 4 p.m.

*Oct. 29 vs. North Tahoe, noon

Home games in bold

*Div. 3A Northern League

The South Tahoe boys soccer team sees the 2016 season as a chance to build for the future. The Vikings will put a team on the pitch made up almost entirely of players new to the varsity level — and are starting with the basics.

“We’ll build it up and we’ll get there eventually,” said senior midfielder Gybran Marquez. “We have to get together as a family and play.”

South Tahoe finished 10-2-7 last season and ended a win shy of the state tournament after falling to Sparks in the regional semifinals for the fourth straight year. That team featured 15 seniors, a direct contrast to the Vikings’ 2016 edition led by second-year head coach Eder Vazquez.

“Fundamentally, we have a lot of work to teach them the strategies and where we want them to be, so they can be competitive in the program,” said Vikings varsity assistant and JV head coach Jose Torres. “That’s what happens when you lose seniors — we have to teach these guys our strategy and our vision.”

“It’s a good core of kids and we can teach them the foundation of where we want to take this program.”Jose TorresVikings assistant coach

“The whole varsity practically graduated, so we have a lot of new players,” Marquez added.

Three players remain from last year’s team — seniors Cesar Hernandez, Lex Merrifield and Antony Lopez. Hernandez, Armando Rosales and Andy Salazar have shown leadership early on, which has come from throughout the roster — including the Vikings’ freshmen.

“We have all classes on the varsity team, and it’s exciting to see freshman step up and try to take on varsity leadership — not just skillwise,” Torres said.

As a result of the significant roster turnover, tryouts for varsity were open to all comers in August. Those that aspired to make South Tahoe’s team had to meet standards ranging from a two-mile run and ball skills to academics.

“We have a good group of kids to build a good foundation — more towards the end of the season and the following year,” Torres said. “It’s a good core of kids and we can teach them the foundation of where we want to take this program.”

South Tahoe will start the season in a 4-4-2 formation, but likely won’t stay in it for the entire campaign. Possession is the aim no matter how the Vikings line up, which Torres already sees as a strength of this year’s team.

“We’re really good with possession,” Torres said. “This team comes with a background in possession and we want to continue that, and pick up the speed a little bit more.”

The Vikings kicked off their 2016 campaign at home against North Valleys (Reno, Nev.) on Thursday, Aug. 25. South Tahoe hosts Carson (Carson City, Nev.) on Friday, Sept. 2, its last non-league before opening Div. 3A Northern League play at home against Lowry on Wednesday, Sept. 7.

“These non-league games are really to see where players fit into a competitive game, and try some of the younger players and see where they can come up to play varsity and help the team out,” Torres said.

South Tahoe doesn’t expect immediate success with its young group, instead seeking steady improvement as the season goes along. Torres said the key to the Vikings realizing their full potential is sticking together through the ups and downs of the campaign.

“We have a young group and it’s really easy to give up when you’re young and don’t have strong leaders that carry you,” Torres said. “The kids have to find that inner strength and continue the long-term of the season.”

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