Seeking state: South Tahoe boys soccer looks to get back on top with new head coach
2015 REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE
*Sept. 11 at Elko, 5 p.m.
*Sept. 12 at Spring Creek, Noon
*Sept. 18 at Lowry, 6 p.m.
*Sept. 19 vs. Fallon, Noon
*Sept. 23 at Dayton, 6 p.m.
*Sept. 26 at Sparks, Noon
*Sept. 30 vs. Truckee, 5 p.m. (at STMS)
*Oct. 3 vs. Fernley, Noon
*Oct. 9 vs. Elko, 4 p.m.
*Oct. 10 vs. Spring Creek, Noon
*Oct. 16 vs. Lowry, 4 p.m.
*Oct. 17 at Fallon, Noon
*Oct. 21 vs. Dayton, 4 p.m.
*Oct. 24 vs. Sparks, Noon
*Oct. 27 at Truckee, 4 p.m.
*Oct. 29 at Fernley, 6 p.m.
Nov. 2 vs. Incline, 7 p.m.
*Div. I-A Northern League match
Home games in bold, played at STHS unless noted
Eder Vazquez won a state championship as a player at South Tahoe a decade ago. Now he’s hoping to get the Vikings’ boys soccer team back on top in a different capacity.
Vazquez is the new boys soccer head coach at South Tahoe. He graduated from STHS in 2007, played on the Vikings’ 2005 team that won the Div. I state championship and takes great pride in returning to coach at his alma mater.
“I’m trying to show the players that you’re not only playing for your school, but you’re playing for your town,” Vazquez said. “Passing that experience from playing on the state championship team means a lot.”
Before the start of the 2015 season, South Tahoe has already set high expectations. The Vikings want to end the campaign with a state championship, which would be the program’s first in five years.
“The goal is to win state, but we’re going to take it game by game,” Vazquez said. “Every game for us is going to be a championship game, and the key is to add three points from each game.
“We need to work harder than anyone else if we want to achieve that goal.”
South Tahoe has spent the weeks leading up to the season focused on conditioning, including an evaluation period during early practices. The Vikings took the field together for the first time in a scrimmage against Carson (Carson City, Nev.) two weeks ago and delivered a 1-0 victory.
“It’s a work in progress, but so far so good,” Vazquez said. “We only had one scrimmage and they played well, but definitely there’s a lot of room for improvement and our main focus after this week is getting them to play as a team.”
For this year’s Vikings team, leadership will come from the senior trio of Chuy Vazquez, Jack Kixmiller and Johnny Medina. Vazquez was a team captain as a junior in 2014 and anchors South Tahoe’s defense from his center back position.
“He’s a leader in the back and that’s what you need,” Vazquez said. “You need to know how to direct the other players in the back at that position.”
Kixmiller was also a captain on last year’s team, and will slot at either right or left back after playing in the midfield as a junior. The senior has spent his summer recovering from an arm injury, and has been wearing a protective sleeve during practices.
“I can tell that it has affected him in some way, but he should be ready by [the first game],” Vazquez said. “He’s been working really hard in both the conditioning part and the skill part.”
Medina will play in the midfield for South Tahoe. He brings talent and versatility to this year’s Vikings squad.
“He can play defensively and also attack,” Vazquez said. “He has a nice leg and a nice shot from outside the 18.”
South Tahoe lost 78 percent of its scoring last season, including Polish foreign exchange student and leading scorer Michal Lis. For the second straight year, the Vikings will lean on a European exchange student to boost their attack — Italian midfielder Miki Crotta will bring creative play to the midfield.
“He really adds value to the team and the center midfield,” Vazquez said. “He has the European-style game and it’s a nice addition.”
Led by a strong back line, the Vikings will likely run either a 4-4-2 or 3-5-2 formation this season. No matter how South Tahoe lines up, it will play possession-style soccer and look to attack opponents quickly.
“We have a really strong defensive team, and now we need to work on the offense,” Vazquez said. “We’re going to be a team that switches from defense to attacking really quickly.”
South Tahoe makes its season debut on the road Friday, Sept. 11, with a Div. I-A Northern League match at Elko. The Vikings have three straight road games before their home opener against Fallon on Saturday, Sept. 19, at Viking Stadium.
“We’re excited for the season, we’re looking forward to the first game and I hope we get great support from the community,” Vazquez said.