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Girls rebuild after title season

James Ball

Returning to practice the season after winning a state championship is never easy, sort of like the morning after a New Year’s Eve celebration.

Just ask Doug Roberts, head coach of the Tahoe-Truckee High School girls’ soccer team. Terming 1998 as a rebuilding year, Roberts is back to coach a team which returns just three starters from 1997.

And what a year 1997 was. The girls went 14-0, outscoring their opponents 153-8 on the season.

But the 1998 team has talent and experience, Roberts said. Quincy Young, Becca Shook and Leilani Mullen know what it takes to win a championship and, after just a week of practice, the team has already beaten Carson City 3-0 in a scrimmage. Roberts said each player got the same amount of time on the field.

As long as he can keep his team healthy, Roberts figures the girls’ chance of success are good. Starter Kim Boaz has already been out for wisdom teeth problems and the flu. Shook pulled her hamstring in the first 15 minutes of practice on the first day.

“It was a bit of a rough start,” Roberts said.

Assuming the team remains healthy, the Wolverines, which have won state the last two years, have an advantage over the opposition.

“People will figure we’re the team to beat,” said Roberts, who begins his fifth season with the Wolverines. “In four years, we haven’t lost to a 3A school.”

New players Kirstin Sietz, Megan Sutter-Jow, Megan Minnick, Rebecca Martin and Lindsey Minetta should make a strong impact on the team, Roberts said.

Other potential standouts include Katie Mickelson, Jill Marchi and Megan Martin.

Starting at midfield will be Kalli Pratt, who Roberts pulled up from junior varsity last year because of her strength.

Seitz and Mickelson will take turns at keeper.

“We still haven’t figured out who plays where.”

But gone are proven powerhouses like Jackie Robinson, Allison Back and Sarah Murray.

“We’re still going to be good,” Roberts said. “But our punch won’t be quite as strong.”

The girls’ schedule for 1998 is similar to last year’s, though the team will play 17 games rather than 18.

“We couldn’t get anyone else to play us, especially the new teams in the league” Roberts said.

There was a scrimmage against Sparks Wednesday afternoon, but results were not available at press time. This weekend, the girls travel to Quincy for a preseason tournament, which should help Roberts determine questionable starting positions.

On Tuesday, Sept. 1, the girls take on Manogue at home in the season opener.

Roberts expects rivals Incline and North Tahoe to be strong this year, as will Manogue and Whittell, who will be at the Quincy tournament.

“We’ll have to play well to beat them,” Roberts said of Whittell and Manogue. “North Tahoe lost a couple of key players, but they’re always tough.”

According to Roberts, the team’s goal this year is to establish its own personality and learn how to play together. So for now, it’s back to the basics with Roberts taking the field alongside the girls, running drills and potential situations.

“If we can learn to play together, we can be strong and have a lot of talent. We want to make the playoffs again. Anything more will be extra.”

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