Unbeaten Vikings garner regional ranking
How talented the South Tahoe High boys’ soccer team is this fall isn’t a secret in Northern Nevada.
But word is also getting out regionally how good these Vikings are. South Tahoe (10-0-1) has moved up to ninth in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/Adidas Region VIII poll. Region VIII encompasses teams from California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Oregon.
“It is an amazing deal for our soccer program because we have never been ranked in anything ever before,” said STHS senior Leon Abravanel. “We go through teams and beat them and seeing that we’re regionally ranked and someone is recognizing us is really nice, especially as a senior.”
Not since the Vikings’ boys state championship basketball in 1991-92 has a STHS team generated interest in the polls. That team, coached by Tom Orlich, only lost one game en route to a No. 19 national ranking.
The Vikings entered the regional poll at No. 15 several weeks ago, but dropped out for one week for no apparent reason.
“It’s weird how they do the rankings. Here we didn’t lose and we dropped out,” said Vikings’ coach Joe Winters.
Winters has kept the NSCAA apprised of his team’s progress by E-mailing their records and results each week.
“Not all coaches belong to the association, so it’s tough (to get votes),” Winters said. “It’s unfortunate that our area is so small and we don’t have that many teams that are strong.”
Jesuit of Sacramento leads the regional and national polls with a 13-0-1 record. The teams won’t meet this season and Winters said such a game would have to be scheduled three years in advance.
After losing its only game to Centennial of Las Vegas in the state semifinals last fall, the Vikings have become more dominant a year later. Through 11 games, the Vikings have surrendered four goals while scoring 55.
“You don’t want people to think you’re being arrogant about your team, but we have a really good team this year,” said Winters, a 10-year varsity coach who has led the Vikings to six division titles, two zone championships and three state appearances.
“It’s hard to get them motivated because they have been playing together so long. They know they are good, but they work hard …. staying focused and on top of things is tough because they’re still kids.”
While the regional ranking is special to these unbeaten Vikings, a loftier goal would bring ultimate satisfaction.
“Ninth isn’t first. Until we’re first or nationally ranked we can’t really say that much,” Abravanel said.
To attain a national ranking Winters believes his team must accomplish something no other Vikings’ team has.
“To get there, which is possible, we’ll probably have to win state. The bottom line is they have to come out focused and play each and every game,” Winters said.