North Tahoe boys soccer | More experienced Lakers hope to return to championship form |

North Tahoe boys soccer | More experienced Lakers hope to return to championship form

Keith Sheffield/Sierra SunNorth Tahoe senior captain Zach Rickenbach and the Lakers hope to return to the state championship with a more experienced, senior-heavy team in 2010.

The six-time state champion Lakers would love nothing more than to restore order in a league they once ruled and#8212; and not that long ago.

In fact, returning to the top ranks No. 1 on their priority list.

and#8220;We had a team meeting before the season began, and I asked our players what their goal was going to be, and they all at the same time said, and#8216;state championship,’and#8221; said Beto Alcaraz, North Tahoe’s coach of 10 years.

It normally goes without saying. In the past decade, Alcaraz has led the Lakers to four state titles and two runner-up finishes, most recently in 2007.

But last year went against the norm, as neither North Tahoe nor its biggest rival, seven-time champion Truckee and#8212; the only program with more titles than the Lakers and#8212; appeared in the state championship. Instead, both teams watched from outside as the title game featured an upstart Sparks team against a talented, senior-heavy squad from Incline.

This year’s title favorite is anyone’s guess given the new landscape in the Northern 3A, which grew even more competitive in the offseason with the addition of longtime 4A power South Tahoe. Dayton also moved from the 3A Sagebrush League to the Lakers’ traditionally more competitive 3A Sierra League.

and#8220;The addition of Dayton and South Tahoe in our league brings us good competition. It’s going to be tough,and#8221; Alcaraz said. and#8220;But like always, we’re going to be our toughest opponent. We have to be consistent, because everybody in our league is going to be tough. But I’m looking forward to the challenge. And our boys, I think they’re ready. They know what they want.and#8221;

These Lakers appear more capable than in the past two seasons, Alcaraz said, mainly because of their senior leadership and maturity. They have 11 seniors, including returning first team All-League defender Zach Rickenbach and second-team selections Freddy Ramirez and Sergio Arellano. Senior Hugo Moreno also returns after earning honorable mention recognition in 2009, as well as seniors Salvador Avila, Felipe Rodriguez, Fernando Herrera and Omar Arellano, among others. Rickenbach, Ramirez and Avila are team captains.

and#8220;I think we’re looking pretty good and#8212; much better than the previous couple years,and#8221; said Alcaraz, who also has three juniors and four sophomores to fill out his roster. and#8220;I think we have very strong group of seniors, and they’ve improved a lot together. Those guys are going to be critical.and#8221;

North Tahoe has several goalkeepers, including sophomore Nico Monforte, senior Trevor Trimm and Ramirez, who’s also a dangerous striker. Alcaraz said he also has a talented goalie on the junior varsity squad, Jose Chavez, as well as a number of other skilled JV players who could receive a call up to varsity at any time.

and#8220;We have a very good, young JV team, so we have pretty good talent coming up,and#8221; he said. and#8220;It will be like an incentive for our players to do well, knowing that we have players that could be brought up to the varsity level.and#8221;

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