Blue crew reloads: North Tahoe boys soccer has clean slate in ’08 |

Blue crew reloads: North Tahoe boys soccer has clean slate in ’08

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunNorth Tahoe junior Osvaldo Sanchez sends a shot toward the goal during practice this past week. Sanchez and the Lakers are a young team overall, with eight sophomores and one freshman and only four seniors and three juniors.

Coach Beto Alcaraz is not tipping his hand about the makeup of his 2008 North Tahoe boys soccer team. And for good reason.

“I’m not really sure yet,” he said, adding that his team has only had about a week of full practice. “We’ll find out and go from there.”

Alcaraz will have a better idea today after the Lakers host Jesuit (Calif.) to kick off the season. Game time is 12:30 p.m.

While the Lakers return five All-League players from last year’s 3A state runner-up squad, they’re working to fill the void left by eight graduating seniors, six of whom made All-League. North Tahoe seniors also swept the league’s three prize awards in 2007: Most Valuable Player, Offensive Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.

“We’re pretty good, but not as good as last year,” said senior Stefan Glander, who earned All-League honorable mention recognition at halfback last season, when the Lakers finished 17-7-4 overall and lost to Truckee, 3-1, in the title game.

“But we have talent,” Glander added. “We just need a little bit of practice.”

Alcaraz is banking on Glander and senior teammate Chris Cahill ” voted co-captains ” to step up and help lead the team by example.

At least on paper, North Tahoe’s youth suggests it may need some veteran guidance. The young bunch is made up of nine underclassmen and seven upperclassmen ” four seniors, three juniors, eight sophomores and one freshman.

Not to worry, Alcaraz said.

“I think we’ll be OK. We have a good group of kids; a hardworking group,” the coach said. “There’s no one guy who’s a star, so in a way that’s better (than last year) because the whole team has to work together and work hard. We can’t rely on one particular player to score all our goals.”

That one player last year was Gerry Bolanos, an offensive powerhouse who led the Lakers with 30 goals.

Asked who’s a likely candidate to pick up the scoring slack, both Osvaldo Sanchez and Felipe Rodriguez thought sophomore Israel Ramirez may be the man. They also agreed that defense and midfield seem to be North Tahoe’s strongest positions, and that there’s room for the Lakers to improve in all facets.

“We still have to get better as a team, because (eight) seniors left,” said Rodriguez, a sophomore midfielder. “It will be tough to recover because we were good (last year). We are going to have to stay focused.”

No position is set in stone, Alcaraz said.

“Everything is open right now. They’ve got to earn it. I told them that whoever looks better is going to play. I don’t care what grade they’re in. Attitude and willingness to do what I ask them to do is what I care about,” the coach said.

Like last year, Alcaraz loaded his nonleague schedule with tough games against larger California programs. After opening with Jesuit of Sacramento, North Tahoe follows with back-to-back contests ” both at home ” against Colfax and Nevada Union on Sept. 2 and 3. With one day’s rest, the Lakers head down to the Sacramento Valley for the Del Campo Tournament on Sept. 5 and 6.

Once the preseason tune-up is out of the way, the Lakers begin league play at Truckee on Sept. 9 starting at 3 p.m.

It’s sure to be worth the price of admission.

North Tahoe hosts Jesuit (Calif.) on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. to kick off its season. The Lakers then host Colfax and Nevada Union on Tuesday and Wednesday before heading down to the Del Campo (Calif.) Tournament on Sept. 5 and 6. They start league play with a game at Truckee on Sept. 9.

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