Vikings receive top Sierra Division honors |

Vikings receive top Sierra Division honors

Few Viking soccer players made the 4A Sierra Division team honors, but those who did received the highest honors possible.

Two of the three Northern Region 4A Sierra Division player of the year honors went to South Tahoe High, with junior Leon Abravanel earning Midfielder of the Year for the second year in a row and junior Tim Head earning Defender of the Year.

Eduardo Ojeda of North Valleys earned Forward of the Year.

“I think this year’s team was probably the best team that South Tahoe has ever produced. Next year, we’re only going to be stronger,” said Abravanel, who also plays on the Western Region’s Olympic Development Team. Abravanel led the team in assists and is largely considered their biggest playmaker.

Abravanel said most, if not all of the Vikings, will play club soccer next spring and summer, and that next year’s team will probably draw a few of the top players from junior varsity.

“There’s no telling where we could go,” he said.

Head played sweeper for the first time this year and credited his coaches and fellow players with his success.

“I couldn’t have earned this honor without the guys playing next to me,” he said.

Wrapping up his ninth year as head varsity coach, Joe Winters received Sierra Division Coach of the Year.

“The boys are the ones that make it for you, so I owe them the thanks. We had a great year,” Winters said. “Coaches get rewarded for how well their players do, so I kind of rode their coattails.”

Winters was assisted by Ed McClain, Chris Deleon and Manuel Morales.

Juniors Alex Torres and Victor Mariscal earned first-team honors as forwards. Torres, who was Sierra Division Forward of the Year as a sophomore in 2001, led the team in goals.

The only other Viking to receive a league honor was one of the team’s three seniors Noe Estrada, as first-team midfielder.

In his career at South Tahoe, Winters said he never coached a player with Estrada’s work rate or willingness to sacrifice on the field.

“He makes the energizer bunny look like he needs Geritol. He’s just a coach’s dream as far as a work ethic,” Winters said.

Curiously, South Tahoe didn’t receive any second-team honors after going 10-0-2 to clinch the Sierra League title. They also won the 4A Northern Regional title and sustained their first loss in the semifinals of the state tournament.

The Vikings scored more than 100 goals this season and only allowed 10.

Of the Sierra League teams to receive honors, Carson took home the most booty with two first-team and five second-team honors. South Tahoe was next with two players of the year and three first-teamers. Reno and North Valleys both took home four team honors. Hug had three and Wooster two.

Winters said he was disappointed that more of his players did not receive second-team honors, and that Torres did not receive Forward of the Year.

Some say Corey Vermillion, Enrique Avina, Jordan Boles, Fabian Perez and goalkeeper Tobin Lindstrom deserved second-team honors, at least.

Avina suffered a broken clavicle in the state semifinals and left the game two minutes before the Vikings gave up their first goal.

Winters said the he thought the team did well with five top honors and that the rest of the team should share in the accomplishment because it took the whole team to receive them.

“We had the best team in the North. But could they give our whole team all league honors? It’s hard, you know, when it come to the voting,” Winters said.

Indeed, the Vikings had one of the best seasons in recent memory, and they’re already looking forward to 2003.

“We had a great team and a lot of great players this year,” Winters said. “I was real pleased about the progress we made. We’re looking forward to next year and can’t wait for it to start.”

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