Whittell strikers long on experience
With eight starters back and 11 seniors on their roster, the Whittell High Warriors can’t help but be optimistic about their upcoming 2002 boys’ soccer season.
“We’re a year older and we have a different perspective on things this year,” said eighth-year coach Steve Maltase. “Guys are a little more focused and we’ve bonded a little bit better.”
Possessing one of the state’s top players — senior Nestor Flores — doesn’t hurt the team outlook as well.
“Nestor has to be the creator,” said Maltase of his three-time all-state star. “We can’t put the load on his shoulders like we have the last two years. He has to be our main man, and our guys have to show reasons for him to have faith in them.”
Center midfielder Flores’ creativity and nose for the net should help ease the tension breaking in young forwards Justin Darrow, a junior, and Tim Prevazac, a sophomore.
“We have a lot of speed up top, so I can send some through balls and I know they can get to it,” Flores said. “Hopefully I can assist them on some scores this year.”
Besides Flores, the strength of the team lies on defense, where three defenders and a goalkeeper return. Senior Phillip Bowman returns at right fullback, senior Kyle Bellotti at left fullback and senior Justin Haynes at sweeper.
“Our focus has been completely on defense,” Maltase said.
Switching to a 5-3-2 defensive alignment has made it necessary to spend most of the preseason practices concentrating on defense.
“We’re trying to teach the guys the 5-3-2 so we can be more flexible and run more than one set on the field,” Maltase said.
Farnsworth’s development between the pipes has been encouraging for the team.
“I think he will be twice the player that he was last year,” Maltase said.
After barely missing the playoffs last year in the Nevada 3A Lake Division, Maltase is confident that the Warriors can compete with any team in the league.
“Incline and Truckee will be the favorites and North Tahoe, Manogue and us will compete for the next two (playoff) spots,” Maltase said. “We have a little revenge that we want to exact on teams this year.
“I feel a lot better than I did last year. They know what to expect and I know what to expect from them.”
That confidence is enabling the Warriors to shoot for the ultimate title in Nevada.
“This year, there’s more maturity and hopefully we’ll step it up in league and take state,” Flores said.
Whittell opens its season today with games against Yerington (2:30 p.m.) and South Tahoe (5:30) p.m. at Whittell High in Zephyr Cove.
Coach: Steve Maltase, eighth year.
Last year: 11-7-2 overall, finished fifth in 3A Lake Division.
Key returners: Senior center midfielder Nestor Flores, led the Warriors with 36 goals last year; senior fullback Phillip Bowman; senior fullback Kyle Bellotti; senior sweeper Justin Haynes; senior marking back Joey Byne; junior marking back Chase Bartholomew; senior outside midfielder Mike Prevezac; and junior goalkeeper Devin Farnsworth.
Opener: Friday vs. Yerington, 2:30 p.m., at Whittell High
Key to success: How much help will Flores get on offense?
Aug. 30/31 Home Tahoe Soccer Tournament TBA
Sept. 13 Home Battle Mountain 5 p.m.
Sept. 14 Home Spring Creek Noon
Sept. 18 Home Yerington 5 p.m.
Sept. 20 Away Pershing Co. (Lovelock) 5 p.m.
Sept. 21 Away Lowry (Winnemucca) Noon
Sept. 24 Home N. Tahoe 5 p.m.
Sept. 25 Away Dayton 5 p.m.
Sept. 25 Away Tahoe Truckee 5 p.m.
Oct. 2 Home Fernley 5 p.m.
Oct. 5 Away Incline Noon
Oct. 9 Home Manogue 5 p.m.
Oct. 11 Home Rite of Passage 3 p.m.
Oct. 12 Home Truckee (Homecoming) Noon
Oct. 16 Home N. Tahoe 6 p.m.
Oct. 19 Home Incline Noon
Oct. 25 Away Manogue 5 p.m.
Oct. 26 Away Rite of Passage 10 a.m.
Oct. 29 Away Truckee 4 p.m.
Nov. 7/9 Regional Soccer TBA
Nov. 15/16 State Soccer TBA
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