‘Tude key for Vikes’ season
Attitude. Teams with good ones are successful in the win-loss column. Teams with bad ones aren’t.
Last year, South Tahoe High’s boys soccer team started the season by posting three wins with a combined score of 14-0. But whether through overconfidence or indifference, the Vikings finished at 7-8-3, including five one-goal losses, four one-goal wins, and out of the Northern Nevada 4A playoffs for this first time in four years. One additional win or tie and Tahoe would’ve made the playoffs.
Coach Joe Winters said youth and inexperience fostered his team’s hard times. But in 1998-99, the fifth-year coach, challenged with trying to corral many of the same personalities, said things are going to be different.
“This year, we’re a lot older. We had eight or nine sophomores who have all matured and gotten a bit hungrier,” he said. “With that, I think we’ll have a more competitive attitude and the drive to win will be there. Last year, I don’t think we quite had that. It was a team funk.”
South Tahoe returns eight starters, according to Winters, including senior team leaders Alex Romagnolo, a sweeper; and Jeff Orr, a forward.
“Alex will lead the defense, is our team captain and a potential defensive MVP. Jeff, if he puts his mind to it, can be a tough guy to stop offensively,” Winters said.
Romagnolo is secure in his role and his team’s ability to put their minds in the right place this season.
“Last year, we won our first three games and the level of intensity in practice and games went down. It caught us off guard. But over the off-season we’ve matured and been able to pick up our games,” he said. “We have a ton of potential and we’re starting to come together. I’d be disappointed if we didn’t make the playoffs.”
Joining Romagnolo and Orr as returners are: David Justus, senior, defender; John Robinson, senior, defender; Travis McCollum, junior, defender/midfielder; Evan Baker, junior, midfielder; Pat Reardon, junior, goal keeper; and David Brown, sophomore, forward.
It’s a combination that Winters thinks will be strong up the middle and on defense and capable of again challenging for a top-four playoff position in Division II play.
“We’re still undecided about some of our outside players. We’re letting them work that out and we’ll see who is going to rise to the positions,” Winters said. “(The middle) plays hard and can lead the team. We’ll be as big and physical as any team in the league. We have speed up top and can score quickly. And we can knock the ball around well with talent in our top 12 or 13 guys.
“For us to be successful, we really need to not get down and figure out how to not have a season like last year. We’re coming along.”
Winters expects the biggest challenge in Division II to come from reigning league champions Douglas, with Carson and Wooster behind them. He said McQueen is potentially the toughest in Division I.
South Tahoe opens the season at home vs. Elko on Saturday. Game time is 11 a.m. at the South Tahoe Middle School.
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