North Tahoe soccer | Laker girls shooting for postseason run | SierraSun.com

North Tahoe soccer | Laker girls shooting for postseason run

Sylas Wright
swright@sierrasun.com

File photoNorth Tahoe head coach Jon Rockwood will look to forward Emily Pieper, pictured in a game last season, to provide much of the Lakers' offensive production this season.

From top to bottom of its 18-player roster, the North Tahoe girls’ soccer team lacks a single glaring weakness and#8212; and that may just be its biggest strength.

and#8220;We’re good. We’re pretty consistent across the board,and#8221; said fourth-year Lakers head coach Jon Rockwood. and#8220;We don’t really have any weaknesses. We have some strong returners and really, really good leadership.and#8221;

While the Lakers lost five seniors to graduation from last year’s team and#8212; three of them All-League talents and#8212; they return 11, including three seniors, four juniors and four freshmen. Many of those returners played club soccer in the offseason to sharpen their games, and it has already shown in the first weeks of practice, said Rockwood, adding that he’s also been impressed with the girls’ camaraderie.

and#8220;We have a lot of depth and team unity, and we have a lot of energy and excitement for the season. I think with our depth, energy and passion, that desire is going to drive us through the season,and#8221; he said. and#8220;We’re looking forward to a good year all the way through the postseason.and#8221;

Rockwood will lean on his more experienced upperclassmen to achieve that goal, namely his three co-captains. They include center midfielder Elizabeth Buhler, who is the only fourth-year varsity player, junior forward Emily Pieper and junior defender Kami Abi-Nader.

and#8220;Aside from their leadership and love for the team, they are also some of the best players on the team,and#8221; Rockwood said. and#8220;Buhler is pretty focused. She’s coming into this season ready to play. We’re going to look for her to be a really good distributor of the ball and to make things happen on the field. I look for Kami to step up as well. She’s a leader and she played a lot in the offseason. And I see Emily Pieper really carrying the offense.and#8221;

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Junior Angela Wood, who shared time in the goal with Abi-Nader the past two seasons, will take over as the primary goalkeeper, Rockwood said. and#8220;We’re really excited to have her back there. She’s great at the position, and she loves it,and#8221; he said.

While pleased with his veteran leaders, Rockwood said he also looks forward to seeing his younger players in game action. Sophomore Kasey Foster, sister of the recently graduated Shelby Foster, will likely replace her sister at stopper, and sophomores Julia Semmens and Audrey Johnson should help anchor the midfield and forward positions, respectively, Rockwood said.

and#8220;Besides Emily (Pieper), I also see Audrey Johnson stepping up in a big way on offense,and#8221; the coach added. and#8220;She’s fast and she’s a natural soccer player. Those two are going to be really good players up top.and#8221;

North Tahoe’s roster also includes two freshmen: Emma Sproehnle and Emma DesLauriers.

With such a well-rounded group, the Lakers will look to improve on last season, when they finished 5-9-3 overall and lost 4-0 to state runner-up Elko in the first round of the Northern 3A Regional Tournament.

Rockwood said he expects neighboring rivals Truckee and Incline to again field strong teams, as well as two-time defending state champion South Tahoe, which has won the state title both years since moving from the 4A (now Division I) to 3A (now Division I-A) division.

and#8220;Incline is young and good, Truckee is always great and of course South Tahoe is insane,and#8221; he said. and#8220;Those girls are great soccer players. But we’ll just have to play up. The challenge is welcome.and#8221;

The Lakers will be challenged well before league play begins, as they are set to face three Division I (formerly 4A) schools in the season-opening Howell Memorial Tournament and#8212; aka the Galena Tournament and#8212; in Reno this Friday and Saturday. In addition to the larger schools, one of which is southern powerhouse Bishop Gorman and another northern power Reed, North Tahoe will play Incline to end the tourney.