Truckee Lady Wolverines aim to defend state soccer title
The defending Class 3A state champion Truckee girls’ soccer team took on stiff competition during their first tournament of the season.
And while their 1-3 record over the first few games is already more losses than the 22-1 state championship team from a year ago, the girls do return their leading goal scorer from last season along with a handful of key senior players.
“Most of the sophomores and juniors we’ve brought up are new to playing varsity at this level,” Head Coach Kyle Kelly said. “The experience isn’t there but definitely the talent is there.”
Truckee lost 10 seniors off of last year’s squad, but return junior Ava Seelenfreund, who led the team last season with 32 goals, while tacking on eight assists on her way to earning first team all-state honors as a sophomore.
“She’s back and she’s looking crazy good,” Kelly said.
Truckee will also look toward seniors Sophie Curtis at midfielder, and Olivia Vigano at forward.
“It’s definitely a new team,” Vigano said. “We have a lot of underclassmen on the team. It’s going to be a learning experience, we haven’t really played together. It’s like a brand new team.”
The Wolverines opened their season at home on Aug. 22, against Class 4A Douglas, and suffered a 4-2 defeat. Truckee then went on to play in a tournament in Reno where, they matched up against 4A school’s Bishop Gorman, Bishop Manogue, and Faith Lutheran. The Wolverines would go 1-2 over the three games with the team’s lone win coming against Manogue.
“Our team definitely showed up for the first couple of games,” said Seelenfreund of the tournament. “It wasn’t that bad of a loss. It kind of brought the team together.”
With so many inexperienced players on the roster, the Wolverines have little time left to come together before their league opener against Spring Creek on Friday, Sept. 8.
One position that is solidified will be at keeper, where senior Izzy Abarno will take over full time after splitting minutes last season with Elena Orozco, who graduated last spring.
“Izzy has been consistently the best keeper in the league,” Kelly said. “But doesn’t get a chance to show it because the defense has been so strong.”
The Wolverines will also return one of the their top goal scorers from last year in junior forward Amber Simonpietri
“She’s definitely going to have a big year,” Kelly said. “She’s stood out well.”
The team will most likely again use a 4-3-3 formation, said Kelly, but with so many new players, it will take time for the squad to gel.
“It will take a while for that to set in for some of the new people at this level,” Kelly said. “But by the end of the year, everything will be flowing as it did last year.”
The Wolverines will begin the defense of their Class 3A title at home on Friday, Sept. 8, at 5 p.m. when they host Spring Creek in the two teams’ Northern League opener. Truckee was 16-0 in league play last year.
After losing to eventual state champion Sparks High in the regional playoffs, the Truckee boys’ soccer team has their sights set high for the 2017 campaign.
The boys lost a wealth of talent from last year’s squad, which featured 16 seniors, but enter this season with a sounder team mentality.
“We lost a lot of seniors from last year, but the team we have this year plays more as a team. They’ve been playing together for a while. It’s a younger team, but their work ethic has definitely been top notch,” Head Coach Casey Eberhardt said.
“Something we’ve been lacking in the last couple of years is the team aspect. In the last couple of years we’ve had some really good individual talent, and this year we still have good individual talent, but they play better as a team.”
Offensively, the Wolverines return one of their top goal scorers from last year in senior Joel Garcia, who has already tallied four goals in the team’s first four games.
Truckee will also look toward junior Jesse Sanchez, junior Cristian Ruiz, junior Gus Islas, and sophomore Edgar Munez for goal production this season.
“We definitely have good striking talent,” Eberhardt said. “We’ll see as the season progresses, but they’re starting to play well already.”
At goalie the Wolverines will use sophomore David Diaz and senior Arturo Ruvalcaba, who will likely split time at net for the team this year.
In front of the two will be a defense led by junior captain Patrick Sullivan.
“We have the mindset of nothing is going to get past us,” Sullivan said. “We want to come in strong and try keep as many clean sheets as we can.”
The Class 2A Wolverines opened play with a tournament in Reno, and went 2-2 in four games against three Class 4A schools, and league rival Elko. Truckee topped Elko 3-1 in the non-league game.
The Wolverines then hosted Class 4A Douglas on Friday, Sept. 1, and dropped a 3-1 contest.
While this year’s squad is young in terms of varsity experience with a freshman and three sophomores making the team, many of the Truckee players feel their team chemistry will make up for any lack of experience.
“We have a lot of potential. We’ve been playing in club together for a very long time, and I feel we can make it through to state, and win it,” said senior captain Toni Oregal. “Last year, there was a lot of individual players that had skills, and this year we actually have a team. We play together, we talk to each other. We play as a team, we pass it around and trust each other.”
Truckee is set to open play in the Northern League on Friday, Sept. 8, with a 5 p.m. road game against Spring Creek.
“We feel strong coming in. This is a good team this year. We’ve got skillful players, playing together. We can do big things this season,” said senior captain Carlos Rivera.
“We’ve been playing together for a lot of years. We know how each other plays and we trust each other.”
Standing in Truckee’s way will be a host of Northern League foes, including defending champions Sparks, and rivals North Tahoe and Incline.
“With North Tahoe and Incline moving up in our division last year, it’s kind of made it a very tough division,” Eberhardt said. “You have to come out and play every single game like it’s the last game.”
Truckee’s next home game will be on Sept. 15 in a league matchup against Churchill.