The goal is No. 1 | SierraSun.com

The goal is No. 1

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun

Jason Kelley/Sierra SunTruckee senior Cole Froelich, green jersey, battles with teammate Salvador Tejeda for possession of the ball during practice on Tuesday.

The Truckee High boys soccer team is geared toward winning ” everything.

“I think once we step out on the field, nobody is going to be able to touch us,” said midfielder Scott Kelly, one of only three returning seniors on the team. … “I wouldn’t say we’re arrogant or anything, but I think everyone on the team is like, ‘Yeah, we should win.’ I think we’re gonna give it our best every game.”

Fellow senior Cole Froelich, also a midfielder, took it a step further.

“Our goal is to win every league game, win zones and then win state,” Froelich said. “We won’t settle for anything less. That’s the team goal.”

To win back-to-back state titles ” Truckee beat Pahrump Valley 2-0 for the 3A state championship in 2005 ” the Wolverines must do so with a decidedly younger team.

Gone are seven players lost to graduation and would-be returning senior Jeremy Adams, whose family moved to Grass Valley, said second-year Truckee coach Hernan Valdivia.

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“We’re gonna miss (Adams),” Valdivia said of his third-leading scorer last year (9 goals, 9 assists), “but we definitely have the skill and talent to absorb the loss.”

Defender Greg Pearson, whom Valdivia expects to be on the field a lot this season, is the third returning senior.

Beyond that is a roster filled with sophomores and juniors, as well as lone freshman Abel Islas, brother of junior teammate Victor Islas.

“It’s a young team,” Valdivia said, “but we’re definitely skilled. It’s a good group. I expect us to be as good as last year … I don’t expect any drop-off in skill once I go to the bench. I’m very fortunate for that.”

To equal last year’s success, the Wolverines will have to match that team’s 18-4 record (6-2 in league) while getting past their familiar and always formidable foe, North Tahoe.

“North Tahoe is always a game to step it up,” Froelich said.

With the two perennial powers tied at five for the most state championships in Nevada history, that much is almost a given.

“North Tahoe is the team to beat,” Valdivia said, adding that he expects Incline to be competitive, as well. “It’s between us and North Tahoe.”

The rival schools split last year, with Truckee winning the first contest 2-1 at home and North Tahoe taking the second match 3-2 on Dollar Hill. Truckee’s other loss in the Northern 3A came at the hands of Sparks.

Last year’s anticipated match-up between Truckee and North Tahoe in the state final was scratched when the Lakers bowed out of the tournament with a loss to Pahrump Valley in the semis. Truckee beat Sparks 2-0 in the semifinal to advance.

But that’s history.

The Wolverines kick off the 2006 season Friday in the Galena Tournament, in which they finished runner-up to perennial 4A power South Tahoe a year ago.

“If we could do that again I’d be real happy,” Valdivia said.

But while the Galena Tournament should provide quality competition, as Truckee is grouped with Galena, Reno and Bishop Manogue, the remainder of the Wolverines’ non-league schedule lacks in terms of challenging contests, Valdivia said. To remedy that fact, Valdivia said he is trying to schedule more games against 4A opponents.

Though Tuesday was the first official day of practice ” the week prior was reserved for tryouts ” Truckee players feel they are right where they need to be.

Froelich said conditioning was the only thing that could be considered a weakness so early in the season.

“We have all the talent in the world at every position,” he said. “We just need to get in shape.”

Both Froelich and Kelly agreed that the team ” the majority of which has played together for years in club soccer ” gels well.

“I feel that the chemistry is already there,” Kelly said. “I think this is going to be a solid team.”

Asked to name a team strength, Froelich said, “I’d have to say how well we bond together. We all know each other really well.”

And despite the individual talent on the 17-man roster, no player is too good to listen to his coach.

“I guess he kind of demands respect without saying it, and everyone respects him,” Kelly said of Valdivia. “Everyone on the team loves him. He knows what he’s talking about. He comes up with awesome practices. I’d say he’s an amazing coach. We definitely need him for guidance.”