Truckee boys soccer on hunt for title |

Truckee boys soccer on hunt for title

Alex Close/Sierra SunTruckee High junior Max Brixey is one of several returning all-league players for the Wolverines.

Tom “Arnie” Arnstein, first-year head coach of the Truckee High boys soccer team, stood back and marveled as his team flashed the kind of brilliance that carried the perennial power to the 2006 state championship.

The Wolverines were capping practice with a scrimmage that resembled a well-edited highlight reel.

“(Arnstein) is a good coach; he’s not trying to change how we play,” said Max Brixey, a junior midfielder and co-team captain whose skills were on full display in the scrimmage. “He’s letting us play our same style.”

And why not?

“I inherited a pretty good team,” said Arnstein, who’s coached the last four years with the Sierra Soccer Club. “They’ve played together a long time, and it shows.”

Truckee, which kicked off the season with a 5-0 sweep of the Seventh Annual Howell Memorial Preseason Tournament at Galena ” including a 2-0 win against defending 4A champion South Tahoe ” returns all but four players from last year’s squad.

That team finished the season 21-4-1 overall (5-2-1 league) and lost to its always formidable foe, North Tahoe, 2-0, in the 3A state championship. The fact that the Wolverines came up short against the Lakers, also a perennial force and a longtime rival to Truckee, doesn’t sit well with this year’s group.

“It just makes it worse that it was (North Tahoe),” said Joey Eberhardt, a junior midfielder and co-team captain along with Brixey and Emmanuel “Morro” Sarabia.

“They’re like our only competition, really.”

While the Lakers and Wolverines continue their tradition as the class of the Northern 3A ” North Tahoe soccer still competes in the same division despite moving down to the 2A because of declining enrollment ” recent history suggests neither should take lightly any of their “underdog” opponents.

The Wolverines, after all, have suffered upset losses each of the past two years to teams such as Incline and Sparks.

Arnstein knows this. He also knows complacency was at the root of those lapses.

“They just need to stay motivated every game,” he said. “If they play their game every time out, they can accomplish their season goals.”

The main goal goes without saying: Truckee wants to add to its five state titles, which is one short of North Tahoe’s Nevada state record of six.

Breathing heavily after the competitive scrimmage, Brixey, Sarabia and Eberhardt ” all of whom earned all-league status last year ” agreed that the Wolverines are stronger than the team a year ago.

“I think we’re more together,” said Sarabia, a sweeper whose deft ball-handling skills are enough to embarrass an entire gang of opposing players. “We’ve been playing together for a couple years now.”

Other Truckee players to be reckoned with this year include Al Virrey, who earned first team all-league honors last year, Salvador Tejeda, a second team all-leaguer, and goalkeeper Ryan Newland. Actually, every player on the entire 18-man roster could be thrown in that category.

“Everybody’s pretty comfortable where they are, and it seems to be working,” Arnstein said. “We’re just going to try to keep that momentum going.”

The Lakers defeated the Wolverines 2-0 in the 2006 state championship to even the rivals’ season series at two games apiece. The teams split their two regular-season games, and Truckee defeated North Tahoe 3-1 in the championship game of the Northern Region tournament.

Truckee plays at rival North Tahoe on Tuesday at 5 p.m.

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