Champs look the role: Truckee girls soccer young but experienced | SierraSun.com

Champs look the role: Truckee girls soccer young but experienced

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun

Seth Lightcap/Sierra SunKatie Dill makes move on Katy Stephens during practice on Tuesday. Both earned All-League recognition last year.

Whether it realizes it or not, the Truckee High girls soccer team has its championship swagger dialed.

It was evident at practice this past week, even as the group ” tightly spaced as a single unit ” conditioned with repeated laps around the field.

“We look pretty good,” said senior Addie Shaffer, a returning first team All-League halfback. “We only lost a few seniors, so it’s pretty much the same core group. And we all know how to play together, so we’re confident.”

Only four players from last year’s 3A state championship team were lost to graduation. While two of those seniors earned All-League recognition, the 2008 Wolverines return nine All-Leaguers ” two first team, four second team and three honorable mention.

“We’re strong throughout,” said head coach Amy Valdivia, confirming Shaffer’s preseason assessment. “It’s an awesome group.”

Besides Shaffer, Stephanie O’Neil, now a junior, was voted to the first team at forward after last season.

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Senior Katie Dill and sophomore Kelsi Decker made second team at forward, senior Kaitlin Cocard at halfback and sophomore Jordan Tollison at fullback.

Katy Stephens made honorable mention at halfback, Kennedy Power at fullback and Kelsey Porter as a utility player. All three are sophomores.

With only four seniors and three juniors on its roster, Truckee and its 11 underclassmen seem an unlikely bunch to call veterans. Yet that’s just what Valdivia considers her team after its championship run last year, which culminated with a 2-1 win over rival North Tahoe. That team finished 19-0-3 overall.

“They may be young on paper, but they have a high maturity level on the field,” said Valdivia, who returns after taking off a year from coaching. “They want to do well. They want to work hard and repeat last year’s success.”

Both Shaffer and Dill said having Valdivia back at the helm gives them extra incentive to win a record seventh Nevada state title.

“We have to get it for Amy,” Dill said.

If the Wolverines fail ” nothing is a guarantee sharing the same league with North Tahoe and Incline ” it won’t be for a lack of well-rounded talent.

“We have versatile players who can step into different roles when we need them to,” Valdivia said. “And not only can they fill in wherever we need them, they can play well in those spots.”

Asked if Truckee has displayed any particular strength so far, Valdivia singled out the squad’s strong leadership, despite its youth. Until the season-opening Galena Tournament concludes on Sunday, the coach said she cannot pin down a weakness.

“I’m not sure yet. We’ll see after this weekend,” Valdivia said.

One thing’s for sure: The Wolverines will be wearing a big, fat figurative target on their backs as Nevada’s best seeks to dethrone the defending state champs. And that’s OK, Shaffer said.

“I actually like that. It pushes us to try to achieve more,” Shaffer said. “We want to keep that name for ourselves. We’re determined to win state.”