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Schedule toughens for Truckee soccer

ERICK STUDENICKA

Twenty-four wins, no losses. The Nevada AAA championship. The top academic team in the state.

The 1996 Tahoe-Truckee High School boys’ soccer team did it all.

While it might seem impossible for this year’s Wolverine team to duplicate last year’s exploits, don’t tell that to the current crop of Wolverine players.

“I think there’s a chance we could do it again,” said senior goaltender Erik Jitloff. “We’ll have to work harder than we did last season, but it’ll still be a good season.”

Truckee coach Larry Leatherman said the team shouldn’t compare itself to last year’s squad, which allowed only one goal while sweeping through the league and state playoffs.

“This is a new group of players and a new season,” Leatherman said. “What we accomplish this year will be what’s right for this group.”

Leatherman said one advantage Truckee has over other teams is that most of the Wolverines’ have competed with each other in the past.

“Most of our players have been playing spring league and tournaments with each other, so they are coming into the season with some familiar touches,” Leatherman said. “It will be exciting to work with this group of players and watch them develop as a team.

After losing 11 seniors to graduation, Leatherman’s first task is to fill several holes in the starting lineup on both the offensive and defensive halves of the field.

“We’ve lost three of our all-state defenders from last year (Bruce Coldwell moved to Fallon and two graduated), but senior Brighton Anderson will anchor the defense,” Leatherman said. “Our defense won’t be as big and as intimidating as it was last year, but we’re hoping our skills will take over this year.”

Senior Justin Long will start the season as the Wolverine goalie; 1996 starter Jitloff is expected to return to the lineup following knee surgery beginning Sept. 10.

On offense, Leatherman said a number of players have the potential to take over the top scorer’s position vacated by Josh Lawrence, who tallied a TTHS single-season record of 46 goals last year.

“I’m not sure who’ll step up and be our leading scorer this season,” Leatherman said. “Kyle Barth, Tom Hernandez, Carlos Reza, Gannon Sutter-Jow, Taylor Greene and Jimmy Leatherman will all be contributing goals. Our offense will be more spread around this season; as opposed to last year when we worked hard to get the ball to Josh.”

Leatherman said the Wolverines scoring will probably be down slightly from last season, mainly because the other defenses throughout the league will be improved.

“There’s no way we will be scoring as much as last year – it’s just not possible because other teams won’t be giving up as many goals as in the past,” Leatherman said.

Leatherman said a number of talented players have moved to varsity from the junior varsity squad. Those players include Ryan Brooke, Tom Hernandez, Jason Gifford, Marc Lopez, Brandon Mihevc and Ken Jacobs.

Other players on varsity this year include Jason Gifford, Jonathan Dias, Wes Thelen, Kenny Jacobs, Mark Lopez, Ryan Brooke, Juan Aguilar, Gabe Valle and Mitch Hurst.

The Wolverines will face their toughest competition in school history this year, with non-league games upcoming against Sacramento-area schools Nevada Union, River City, San Juan and Folsom. The team will also play in the Del Campo Tournament Sept. 5-6, which includes 40 of the top high school teams in California.

“The athletic director has put together a good pre-season schedule for us,” Leatherman said. “The pre-season will give us a good opportunity for our players to get to know each other and develop team chemistry.”

The league season also promises to be interesting this year.

“Spring Creek will be out to get us after losing to us in the state championship last year,” Jitloff said. “North Tahoe is always a good rival, also.”

Truckee opens its season tomorrow (Aug. 29) at the Quincy Tournament. The Wolverines are the defending champions of the tourney.


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