Vikings girls soccer team young but talented |

Vikings girls soccer team young but talented

Darin Olde, Tribune staff writer
Dan ThriftSTHS sophomore Nolie Pierini gets in some footwork during Monday's practice

Any team that loses 14 seniors is in for a rebuilding year.

The most that any coach can ask for is a group that is as committed to succeeding as were the Vikings of 2001.

And that may be where fifth-year varsity coach Julia Russell has a lot to be thankful for, and the fact that she has the most talented crew of young players she has seen in a long time.

Russell said she’s held voluntary practice on Thursday evenings at Tahoe Valley Elementary School during the summer and that the 30-35 girls showing up every week is the largest group she’s every had in off-season practices.

And although they are young, you should see them play.

“This is the highest skill level I’ve seen coming up from the junior varsity,” Russell said before practice Monday.

“They’ve made a commitment to soccer, and have given soccer year-round training — the majority of them — for many years,” she said. “Together they’ve become very strong. They’ve increased their skill and they’ve come to us in shape.”

The varsity squad of 18 is comprised of 11 juniors, two sophomores and five seniors. Fifty-four girls came out for the team.

“We’ve had to make some cuts,” Russell said of the combined total of 40 players on the varsity and junior varsity. “We’ve had more in the past, but this year we’ve had such a high level of talent it was a good turnout.”

The core of 11 juniors is what Russell and the five seniors are so confident about. They’ve been playing together for many years, and are dedicated to the game.

“We’re further along talent wise and grooming wise,” Russell said. “(The younger players) bring talent and they also bring great team chemistry, and they’ve been trained well.”

Inexperience and a shallow roster of forwards may be the team’s weak points against powerhouses like Carson, Douglas and Reno.

But with strong team commitment and Russell’s coaching, assisted this year by former JV coach Randy Volkmar, the team will have the pieces in place to improve on last year.

Last year, the team finished fourth in the Sierra Division at 6-6-0, three games behind first-place Reno at 9-3-0.

The fourth seed in the regional championships, the Vikings lost their first game to Reed 3-0.

Lauren Bachelder, Erika Gonzalez and Sierra Shipley were among the eight Vikings who received 4A North State Girls Soccer All-State Academic Team honors, and they are among the five returning seniors.

“I think we can go pretty far, at least through to regionals and maybe take regionals,” Bachelder said.

It’s the skill and depth of the younger players that’s providing Bachelder and Gonzalez confidence heading into their final year.

“I think we are looking really strong,” Gonzalez said. “A lot the juniors coming up are incredible players.”

Jose Gonzalez will coach JV. Clint Lockhart will help with both teams.

The Vikes’ first home game is Sept. 7 against North Valleys at South Tahoe Middle School.

Coach: Julia Russell, fifth year.

Key returners: Five seniors and a large core of talented juniors.

Last year: Fourth in league at 6-6-0, defeated in the first round of zone.

Opener: Sept. 3 at Spanish Springs, 7 p.m., first home game Sept. 7 at 1 p.m. vs. North Valleys at South Tahoe Middle School.

Key to success: 100 percent at every practice. Making the practice tempo as fast as the game tempo.

Girls Varsity Soccer

Sept. 3 at Spanish Springs 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 North Valleys 1 p.m.

Sept. 10 Reno 3:30 p.m.

Sept. 17 Douglas 3:30 p.m.

Sept. 21 Hug 1 p.m.

Sept. 24 Fallon 3:30 p.m.

Sept. 28 Wooster 3 p.m.

Oct. 1 Carson 3:30 p.m.

Oct. 5 at Douglas 1 p.m.

Oct. 8 at Hug 3:30 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Reno 3 p.m.

Oct. 15 at Wooster 3 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Elko 2 p.m.

Oct. 22 North Valleys 3 p.m.

Oct. 29 at Carson 3 p.m.

Nov. 2-9 Regionals TBA

Nov. 15-16 State TBA

They play in preseason tournament Saturday at Galena High in Reno.

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