Champs back in action
The defending state champion North Tahoe High boys soccer team is starting its season the way a defending champ should ” slowly.
After tying Sparks, 2-2, on the road Tuesday, North Tahoe won its first home game against Nevada Union, 2-1, on Wednesday afternoon.
Senior Gerry Bolanos and freshman Salvador Avila scored goals for the Lakers in their first showing on Dollar Hill.
While the Lakers had no real trouble with the Miners, and dominated the flow of play for most of the game, the boys in blue and white tried to do a little bit too much on the ball individually and dropped their intensity in the twilight of the game, allowing Nevada Union to put a goal in the back of the net.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” head Laker coach Beto Alcaraz said after the game.
North Tahoe lost only three players from last year’s team to graduation. Couple that with a few academic ineligibilities and a couple of injuries and the Lakers are down six players ” four starters ” from last year’s squad.
Most of those six should be back on the field this season, Alcaraz said.
While Alcaraz said his boys need to work on a lot of things and get back into the routine of the season, his team’s strength is its experience.
There are nine seniors on the team, and a core of five returners will anchor the squad.
Starting goalkeeper and senior captain Michele Basile is back for his third starting season after an impressive postseason performance, which included fearless and rock-solid goalkeeping in the state final against rival Truckee.
Bolanos, also a senior captain, will spearhead the Laker attack at striker and possibly midfield this season. Bolanos’ unstoppable rocket of a left foot will be a constant threat to opponents this season, just as it was against Nevada Union on Wednesday when he unleashed a shot from distance for North Tahoe’s first goal.
The Lakers’ third co-captain, Eric Holman, will most likely run the midfield for North Tahoe this year. The lanky senior is virtually unstoppable on the ball, and, if he can focus on his final touch, will be a deadly playmaker for North Tahoe.
Ricardo Cervantes, also a senior, will most likely anchor the Laker defense and John Bolanos could see time all over the field.
Attacking player David Munoz, who is currently out with an ankle injury, will bolster North Tahoe’s attack this season.
As they showed against Nevada Union, the Lakers will need to concentrate on simplicity to be most effective. With so much individual talent and tight ball skills, North Tahoe’s attack is hindered by players trying to do more than they need to on the dribble.
“We need to work on simple things, the basics,” Alcaraz said. “The hardest part in soccer is to play simple.”
But, North Tahoe is in a good place so early in the season. The Lakers are undefeated in their first two matches, and as defending champs, there’s no reason to peak yet, leaving Alcaraz optimistic.
“I’m happy with the future,” Alcaraz said.
The coach isn’t the only one who’s smiling about North Tahoe soccer this year. Basile was reluctant to be too confident so early in the year, but it’s a squad he’s happy to be in net for.
“It’s so early in the season it’s hard to tell,” Basile said. ” But I think we look pretty good.”