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Warriors shaping up for exciting season

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

Seventh-year Whittell High coach Mike Leeper isn’t elated about the condition his girls soccer team came into preseason practice.

But Leeper doesn’t have much else to complain about considering the Warriors didn’t lose a single player from his 2001 postseason team to graduation.

“It looks like they had a great summer,” Leeper said. “By midseason we should be a very conditioned team.”



Senior defender Heather O’Brien thinks the Warriors have it rougher than some other teams at the school.

“Oh, my god, I don’t think I’ve ever been run like this in my life,” she said. “We have it harder than the football team.”



Last week’s 6 a.m. workouts, which began with challenging jogs in the sand in Zephyr Cove, should produce the well-conditioned athletes Leeper seeks.

“We don’t have the luxury of substitution,” Leeper said. “We have such a small school, so it’s important that our players that take the field are in shape and ready to go a full 80 minutes.”

Beginning with senior Jackie Laurian, the team’s high scorer from last year, and ending with all-state goalie Elise Thomas, a junior, the Warriors are almost a cinch to extend their string of playoff appearances to seven.

“I don’t expect this year to be any different,” Leeper said. “From beginning of the season (last year) I didn’t know what was going to happen, and by the end of the year we were incredibly competitive.

“So I know the talent is there. Now, it’s a matter of getting it out of them. The possibilities are endless, but they have to want it.”

Besides Laurian’s offensive skills, Leeper is expecting a big season out of sophomore forward Kaitlin Green.

“She has great skills and and good savvy for the game,” Leeper said.

O’Brien and Thomas will anchor the defense, and senior Ashley Wines and juniors Brooke Schussel, Jenna Hayes and Hayley Shaw will push the ball up field to trigger the variety of offensive possibilities.

“Going on our second year playing together, we know how each other plays, we know where people are going to be on the field and we’re all familiar with each other’s style, that’s helped a lot,” O’Brien said.

A 1-0 first-round playoff loss to Spring Creek ended Whittell’s 2001 season — a defeat that has inspired the Warriors.

“To this day we still talk about that game,” O’Brien said. “One little mistake ended our season. This year we’re hoping to make it to state.”

The Warriors open their season Friday with games against Dayton at 1 p.m. and Yerington at 3 p.m. in the Warrior Cup.

Coach: Mike Leeper, seventh year.

Key returners: Senior forward Jackie Laurian, last year’s leading scorer; senior defender Heather O’Brien; senior midfielder Ashley Wines; junior goalie Elise Thomas, all-state in 2001; junior Brooke Schussel, junior midfielder Jenna Hayes, junior midfielder Hayley Shaw; and sophomore forward Kaitlin Green.

Last year: Tied with Manogue for third in the 3A Northern League (9-5-1), lost 1-0 to state runner-up Spring Creek in the first round of the playoffs.

Opener: Friday vs. Dayton at 1 p.m. and Yerington at 3 p.m. in inaugural Warrior Cup.

Key to success: Staying healthy and being in condition. “We don’t have luxury of substitution,” Leeper said.

Whittell 2002 schedule

Sept. 13 Home Battle Mountain 3 p.m.

Sept. 14 Home Spring Creek 10 a.m.

Sept. 18 Home Yerington 3 p.m.

Sept. 20 Away Pershing Co. (Lovelock) 3 p.m.

Sept. 21 Away Lowry (Winnemucca) 10 a.m.

Sept. 24 Home N. Tahoe 3 p.m.

Sept. 25 Away Dayton 3 p.m.

Oct. 2 Home Fernley 3 p.m.

Oct. 5 Away Incline 10 a.m.

Oct. 9 Home Manogue 3 p.m.

Oct. 12 Home Truckee (Homecoming) 10 a.m.

Oct. 16 Home N. Tahoe 4 p.m.

Oct. 19 Home Incline 10 a.m.

Oct. 25 Away Manogue 3 p.m.

Oct. 29 Away Truckee 2 p.m.

Nov. 7/9 Regional Soccer TBA

Nov. 15/16 State Soccer TBA


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