North Tahoe soccer | Boys reload for new season | SierraSun.com

North Tahoe soccer | Boys reload for new season

Sylas Wright
swright@sierrasun.com
North Tahoe's Chase Whitney competes against Incline in the 2013 state championship game. Whitney is one of three senior captains for the Lakers.
Sylas Wright / Sierra Sun |

League openers

The Laker boys will host Battle Mountain at North Tahoe Regional Park in Tahoe Vista on Friday at 3 p.m. The North Tahoe girls follow at 5 p.m.

The North Tahoe boys soccer program never seems to waver.

A year after finishing runner-up in the state, the six-time state champion Lakers return a versatile and mixed-age group of skilled players who have longtime head coach Beto Alcaraz excited for the 2014 season.

“I think we’re good. We’re kind of young, with only four seniors on the team, but I think everybody is coming along and we have a talented team,” said Alcaraz, whose team reloaded after losing a handful of impact seniors to graduation. “They have very good technical skills. Even the freshmen are contributing quite a bit. It’s a good mix.”

The Lakers are led by senior captains Lucas Earley, Chase Whitney and Angel Guerrero, the reigning Division III MVP. The captains are complemented by a hodgepodge of underclassmen, including six juniors, five sophomores and three freshmen, as well as senior Edgar Delgado.

The three captains have impressed their coach in the early going.

Guerrero, Whitney and Earley all boast speed, experience and deft ball skills, as well as leadership ability and general soccer savvy, Alcaraz said. Aside from Guerrero’s league MVP honor, Earley was voted by coaches to the All-League first team and Whitney to the second team.

About Guerrero, “He’s quick, and he’s very smart,” Alcaraz said of his sweeper. “That’s why I keep him back there. He has very good field vision and technical skills, and he knows what to do. You need somebody back there to play like that. Angel keeps the other boys in place and is a leader.

“And likewise with Chase and Lucas in the midfield,” Alcaraz continued. “They guide the younger kids. They are very smart players as well. They’ve been playing soccer most of their lives, and it shows. They are all great players. I’ve had them since freshmen, and they’ve come a long ways. I’m very pleased with their performances. They are the key.”

Alcaraz said the Lakers have received offensive contributions from “all over the place” during the early season, in which the squad has showed promise in nonleague wins over larger schools from both Nevada (Douglas) and California (Colfax).

Senior Edgar Delgado and Junior Omar Cerda lead the offensive attack as starting forwards, while Alcaraz sometimes pulls up sophomore midfielder Jesus Ortega, freshman midfielder Quinn Earley and, occasionally, Guerrero.

Whitney and Earley anchor the midfield along with Ortega and Angel Lopez, and junior Andy Morgan and sophomores Ross Tester and Edgar Munoz start on defense along with Guerrero.

Sophomore Trent Lingruen, meanwhile, has large shoes to fill as the Lakers’ first-year goalie. He replaces Omar Vargas, who was All-League honorable mention last season and co-captain. Alcaraz said Lingruen is tall and naturally talented, and, with the help of Vargas as an assistant coach, continues to steadily improve.

Juniors Chema Chavez and Harrison Goss, sophomores Angel Leon and Austin Carr, and freshmen Michael Martinez and Juan Pablo Herrera round out the roster.

Like every year, Alcaraz expects two-time defending state champion Incline to be the Lakers’ main competition. The Division III’s other primary contender, Whittell, did not have enough players to field a boys team this season, while two DIII programs from the south dropped their boys programs.

The leaves so few DIII programs, particularly in the south, the four-team northern regional tournament will instead serve as the state tournament, Alcaraz said.

“Incline is the main challenge. But you have to beat everyone and not take anyone lightly,” the coach said. “That’s when you start having problems. We need to have consistency.”