Talented and ready: Lake Tahoe CC women’s soccer has high expectations in second season under Evans
LTCC Women’s Soccer 2016 schedule
Aug. 27 vs. Cosumnes River, 1 p.m.
Sept. 3 vs. West Hills, 11 a.m.
Sept. 3 vs. Mendocino, 4 p.m.
Sept. 4 vs. Santa Rosa, 4 p.m.
Sept. 9 at Diablo Valley, 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 10 at Ohlone, 11 a.m.
Sept. 17 at Sequoias, 10 a.m.
Sept. 23 vs. West Valley, 4 p.m.
*Sept. 27 at Butte, 4 p.m.
*Sept. 30 vs. Feather River, 2 p.m.
*Oct. 7 vs. Lassen, 2 p.m.
*Oct. 11 at Siskiyous, 4 p.m.
*Oct. 14 vs. Redwoods (at Shasta), 2 p.m.
*Oct. 18 at Shasta, 4 p.m.
*Oct. 21 vs. Butte, 2 p.m.
*Oct. 25 at Feather River, 4 p.m.
*Nov. 1 at Lassen, 4 p.m.
*Nov. 4 vs. Siskiyous, 2 p.m.
*Nov. 8 vs. Shasta, 2 p.m.
*Nov. 10 vs. Redwoods (at Butte), noon
Home games in bold
*Golden Valley Conference contest
The 2016 Lake Tahoe Community College women’s soccer team has more collective talent than those that came before it during the program’s young history. As a result, the Coyotes are optimistic about the upcoming campaign while building a new foundation for the program.
“These girls bring a little bit more of a serious soccer culture to our town,” said Coyotes second-year coach Jeremy Evans. “We have great fitness, they’re working hard, they’re communicating and they’re doing all the things you have to do at the college level.”
Lake Tahoe made the postseason in its inaugural 2014 campaign under Christian De Leon, but a lack of depth last season kept the Coyotes from seriously competing en route to a 6-11-1 finish. A talented recruiting class combined with a strong core of returners has LTCC where it wants to be in terms of depth — and expectations.
“With this group we have here, we’re as talented as any team we played last year,” Evans said. “Talentwise we’re there, it’s just a matter of putting the ball in the back of the net.”
The Coyotes scored 26 goals in 18 matches last season, including a team-high 12 from forward Shawa Guerrero-Escobedo. LTCC’s leading scorer and first team all-conference selection from a season ago wouldn’t mind sharing that load with more striking ability around her in 2016.
“Everyone is not afraid to take the shot or take someone on — everyone is confident,” said Guerrero-Escobedo, who typically commanded two defenders last season. “That’s a great thing to have on the team.”
Lake Tahoe has trained and practiced at full speed throughout its preseason training camp, a contrast to last August. Sophomore midfielder Kendall Eagan said the process has been smooth, even if that involved two-a-day sessions with morning and afternoon practices at the start.
“It feels way better. I feel we can really get stuff done and be successful this year,” said Eagan, who was a second team all-conference selection in 2015. “I’m excited for us to keep training and keep getting better as a team.”
Guerrero and Eagen headline a class of six returners that include South Lake Tahoe products Valeria Garcia, Kama Barron and Alicia Rea. Kelsey Darrin started 14 games last season while Brittney Hubberts returns to the team for a second year after not playing in 2015.
The newcomers are made up of 14 freshmen and sophomore goalkeeper Yami Jimenez-Ojeda, who transferred after a year at Phoenix College in Arizona. South Lake Tahoe’s Kenya Maltase, Alejandra Gutierrez and Stacy Vasquez are the local freshmen in a group that features players from Nevada, California, Hawaii and England.
“The individual talent is amazing, and as a team I’m excited to see what we’re going to do,” said midfielder Victoria Sanchez, who hails from Las Vegas. “I think we’re going to go far.”
Practices have been competitive throughout August, largely because Lake Tahoe’s starting lineup is still not set. More clarity is expected after the Coyotes scrimmage with Div. II San Francisco State on Friday, Aug. 19, at Viking Stadium — but early on, playing time is still up for grabs.
“Everyone is out here working and no one really has a starting position yet,” Maltase said. “We’ve been changing it up every practice — you have to work hard no matter what.”
Evans typically favors a 4-2-3-1 formation because of its flexibility, but said the Coyotes could go with a 4-4-2 to get more attackers up front. No matter the personnel or formation, LTCC plans to play with possession and run opponents around in 2016.
“Pass, pass, pass, and then just come out of nowhere and score goals from anyone,” Guerrero-Escobedo said. “It’s not that one person that scores all the time — it can be anyone.”
“I think we’re going to be a pretty dynamic team, but everything will be based on playing out of the back and possession,” Evans added.
Lake Tahoe has its sights set on the postseason after missing out in 2015. The Coyotes are also taking aim at the Golden Valley Conference championship following a fourth-place finish in league a season ago — a challenging task for the third-year program.
“We’re on the bottom looking up until we dethrone somebody and earn it,” Evans said. “No one is going to give it to us, but I certainly anticipate being there this year. These girls see it, and it’s going to be a fun season.
“They can all sense success is on the horizon, but we don’t know exactly how we are going to reach that horizon. We just know we want to do it together and with the group we have.”
The Coyotes open the 2016 season Saturday, Aug. 27, against Cosumnes River College (Sacramento, Calif.) at 1 p.m. LTCC starts Golden Valley Conference play Sept. 27 at Butte College.