Underclassmen key to Warriors’ season
ZEPHYR COVE – As 10th-year boys’ soccer coach Steve Maltase drove into the Whittell High School parking lot one day last week he got an uneasy feeling that most of his Warriors were skipping practice.
A few cars were scattered in the lot during a week where he was emphasizing running in each practice.
But glancing down at the field below, Maltase saw his full complement of young varsity players waiting for whatever he was about to dish out.
“They all got dropped off by their moms … it’s pretty funny,” Maltase said. “I guess it assures me that they’ll be here because they don’t have cars yet.”
With 20 of his 26-player roster made up of freshmen and sophomores, Maltase’s program has a bright future. How they will fare this season should hinge on how well they blend in with a thinner than usual core of veterans.
“They work really hard and they never complain about running or anything,” senior sweeper Scott Lusby said. “We are so used to having a lot seniors and all the experience and now there is only three or four of them.”
Maltase like what he sees so far.
“They don’t recognize themselves as being young. They are just playing soccer, they are getting along well and they’re working hard,” Maltase said. “I still expect us to make the playoffs this year.”
Serving as the teachers on the field are versatile senior midfielder Tim Prebezac, senior halfback Abe Greenspan, senior transfer Erik Mealing, junior fullback Cody Harrington, junior forward Justin Jordan and sophomore halfback Jonathan Sosa.
The other player bringing varsity starting experience to the team is sophomore goalie Casey Kaleta. Kaleta backed up all-league goalie Devin Farnsworth last year, but saw his share of playing time.
However, Kaleta had no interest in tending goal before last season.
Maltase joked that he had to line up his players and kick balls at them to determine who his next goalie would be. A reluctant goalie at first, Kaleta has improved his skills by attending a summer goalie camp.
“Now he has a chance to be one of the better goalies in the league,” Maltase said.
If Kaleta struggles between the pipes, Maltase has more goaltending options than normal. Freshmen Carter Amaral and Paul Waite and sophomore Misael Arellano prefer the position.
“The good thing is that they’re all athletic, so they’re versatile and should be able to play out in the field as well,” Maltase said.
“Hell Weeks” doesn’t get any easier no matter how many times you go through them. Maltase ran his team about six miles a day to get them in shape for the tough 3A schedule on the horizon.
“It was my fourth Hell Week, so I was expecting something hard to run,” Lubsy said. “We were all tired and basically didn’t do anything the rest of the day.”
Despite their youth, Lusby doesn’t think it’s unrealistic for the Warriors to make the playoffs.
“There’s, of course, those teams like Truckee and North Tahoe that we want to put up a fight against and get a few goals on them, but I think we definitely have a chance to make playoffs,” Lusby said.
Notes: Scott Corwin, a 2000 WHS grad, returns as an assistant … former Whittell star Nestor Flores has been working out with the team … Two players from last year’s team – second-team all-leaguer Jerel Dutton and Mike Flanagan – opted to go out for football … Sparks take the place of Manogue in Whittell’s division … Whittell will play five games this weekend in the Quincy tournament at Feather River Community College … The Warriors’ home opener is tentatively set for Sept. 17 against Sparks.
2004 WHS soccer schedule
Date Opposition Time
Aug. 27-28 Quincy tourney TBA
Sept. 10-11 Del Campo tourney
Sept. 17 SPARKS (first home game)
Note: School hadn’t released a complete schedule by press time.
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