Warriors produce division soccer player, coach of the year | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Warriors produce division soccer player, coach of the year

For the second straight year, the soccer player and coach the Northern Nevada 3A Division II coaches recognized as the best are Warriors.

Whittell senior Todd Echan led a list of seven Warriors to earn all-Division II honors, and flourished in his senior year under the league’s coach of the year, Steve Maltase. With all-division performers Echan, Kyle Spingola, Scott Corwin, Trevor Bartholomew, Chris Markt, Nestor Flores and Joe Piccola, the Warriors overcame a slow start to finish 16-7-1 on the season, winning their second straight division title and advancing to the state’s final four before eliminination in a semifinal loss to North Tahoe.

“It was a tough year. We got ourselves in a little hole where we were 1-2 in league, but we kind of met, talked things over and decided we could turn this thing around,” said Maltase, who has won coach of the year two times in a row. “They did, and that’s a tribute to the guys’ hard work.”

Arguably, no player was more important to that turnaround than Echan – or at least that’s what the league’s coaches decided. Echan finished with a team-high 14 goals and six assists for a team-high 34 points, scoring six of those goals in a home win over Yerington. Echan achieved those standards of offensive production despite Maltase moving him back and forth from defense to offense. He is Whittell’s second straight division player of the year, after Dusty Apocotos in 1998.

Echan said he thought the award came down between Mike Elcano of Bishop Manogue, and him, and that his play on both offense and defense helped set him apart in the judges’ minds. Even though that made the points harder to come by, Echan still scored the most for Whittell, by far.

“The points come on offense, and not playing forward, you’re having a lesser chance of getting those points,” he said.

Two of Echan’s classmates, Spingola and Corwin, earned first-team division honors. Spingola scored 25 points and had a team-high 11 assists, one more than Corwin. Corwin was second on the team in assists despite drawing some of Whittell’s toughest defensive assignments. Spingola and Echan also shared duties at captain, a role which Maltase credited with making coaching easier.

“Kyle and Todd were the captains this year, and I think they had a harder job than I did, because there were nine seniors, and they had to be the boss of seven of them,” Maltase said. “Those guys had a really hard job because they’re trying to tell players they have known all their lives what to do. They were great players, but they were great leaders, too. They didn’t just lead by example.”

Echan said his and Spingola’s job was hard, but it was obvious when the team started coming together.

“Our team was incredible,” Echan said. “We had, I think, one of the best lines of communication. If someone was down, we’d pick each other up.”

In addition, Whittell landed four players on the second team: Bartholomew, Markt, Flores and Piccola. Bartholomew, a senior, scored one goal this season while giving Whittell a stout defensive presence. Markt, also a senior, was third in points with Whittell with 21. Flores provided Whittell with a surprise offensive threat, finishing with eight goals and four assists in his freshman year.

“He did an outstanding job,” Maltase said of Flores. “If he keeps working hard like I think he will, his potential is unlimited.”

Piccola was solid in goal all year for Whittell, particularly down the stretch, when Whittell won eight games in a row to clinch the league title and win zone.

Echan said he wasn’t satisfied with where the season ended, but was satisfied with how Whittell’s players did their best. He counted his MVP award among the team’s achievements this season.

“I think my teammates contributed a big part of this,” he said. “I couldn’t have done it without them.”

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