Truckee soccer | Boys look to return to state championship form | SierraSun.com

Truckee soccer | Boys look to return to state championship form

Sylas WrightSierra Sun
Sylas Wright / File photoJunior forward Johnny Zarate returns as one of the Wolverinesandamp;#8217; top scoring threats in 2011.
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Year after year, the Truckee boysandamp;#8217; soccer team sets the same exact goal at the start of the season andamp;#8212; advance to the state championship, then win it. But this year, while their intent remains the same, the Wolverines were a little more specific about how they hope to get there.andamp;#8220;The goal every year is to go to state and win a state championship, so we wanted to come up with some different goals this year,andamp;#8221; said Casey Eberhardt, a 2003 Truckee High grad whoandamp;#8217;s entering his first season as head coach. andamp;#8220;We want to be consistent, no matter what team weandamp;#8217;re playing. We want to come out strong and play every game with a high level of intensity and skill.andamp;#8221;Stick to that plan, and Eberhardt and the Wolverines are confident they can return to, and win, the 3A state championship, which they last reached when winning back-to-back titles in 2007 and 2008. The Wolverines hold the NIAA record for most state championships all time, with seven. But the 3A bulked up before the 2010 season, as South Tahoe, a traditional soccer power among the 4A ranks, dropped down a classification to join the Wolverinesandamp;#8217; 3A Sierra League. The Vikings went on to win the state title their first season in the 3A.Nevertheless, Truckee was right there nearly every step of the way, finishing second to South Tahoe in league play before losing to an upstart Sparks team in the semifinal round of both the Northern Region and State Championship tournaments.This year, while the Wolverines lost several All-State performers from that 2010 team, including Offensive Player of the Year Michael Brixey, they return an experienced lineup thatandamp;#8217;s not to be overlooked. andamp;#8220;I think we look really good,andamp;#8221; said Eberhardt, an assistant the past three years to former head coach Hernan Valdivia, who moved to Southern California in the offseason. andamp;#8220;We have four seniors and a huge core of nine juniors andamp;#8230; so we have a junior-senior starting 11, which is nice.andamp;#8221;The speedy Johnny Zarate, a junior, and skilled big man Fernando Rodriguez, a senior, lead the offense at the forward positions along with junior Jose Sarabia. Juniors Colten Rodrigue, Jesse Fereira and Nash McMullen will hold down the midfield, Eberhardt said, adding that another junior, Austin Simonpietri, also has andamp;#8220;come on strongandamp;#8221; of late at outside mid. A couple of seniors, Ben Brown and Michael Reynaud, lead the defense alongside junior Reed McMullen, while junior Ignacio Diaz returns to defend the net at goalkeeper. Nash McMullen and Brown were voted to the All-State second team last year, and Rodrigue and Fereira received honorable mention recognition.andamp;#8220;Our teamandamp;#8217;s strength is its experience so far on varsity. And most of our players are also on the same club team, so a huge strength is how well they play together,andamp;#8221; said Eberhardt, whoandamp;#8217;s joined on the coaching staff by his younger brother, 2006 Truckee grad Scott Eberhardt.Truckeeandamp;#8217;s roster also includes two sophomores in forward Rolando Zarate and defender Armando Diaz, both of whom joined the team for the postseason last year, as well as freshman David Martinez.The elder Eberhardt said he expects Johnny Zarate, who played varsity as a freshman two years ago, and Rodriguez to finish among Truckeeandamp;#8217;s top goal scorers. But ideally, heandamp;#8217;d like to see the offensive production distributed evenly. andamp;#8220;Weandamp;#8217;re hoping to spread out the scoring throughout the team,andamp;#8221; he said.