Truckee soccer nets honors
While both Wolverine soccer teams came up short in their bids for state titles, the players’ efforts did not go for naught. Nor did girls coach Amy Valdivia’s.
Twenty players between Truckee’s boys and girls teams were named to the all-league squads in the Northern 3A Sierra League ” an honor voted on by the league’s coaches.
Atop that honorable list was Nikki Panziera, a senior sweeper and team captain who was named Most Valuable Player.
“It’s great because normally it’s the offensive players who get recognition,” Valdivia said. “I think she’s very deserving. She anchored our team in the back.”
Valdivia, in her third year as head coach of the Truckee girls, was voted Coach of the Year.
Not the bragging type, she deflected the credit to her players.
“It’s more of a reflection on the girls,” Valdivia said of the honor. “The (Sierra League) coaches recognized how the team came together, and that was neat.”
Bob Shaffer, athletic director at Truckee High, gave Valdivia her due credit.
“She got selected by her peers, so obviously they saw, not only in her but also her players, the hard work that they put into the season,” Shaffer said, adding that “probably 80 to 85 percent of the time” the Coach of the Year award goes to the state champion team. “It takes somebody who really overachieves in the minds of other coaches (to receive the honor). That alone speaks volumes.”
The Truckee girls finished the season 20-4 overall (7-1 in league) and lost to Incline, 2-0, in the 3A state championship in Las Vegas on Nov. 11. In league play, opponents scored only five goals against the Wolverines, Valdivia said.
Panziera had a lot to do with that.
“She was hugely responsible for that,” Valdivia said of her senior defender, who also chipped in three goals and six assists during the regular season. “She’ll be hard to replace next year.”
In many ways.
“She was just a quite leader on the field,” Valdivia said. “She never got rattled and she always kept her cool, and the team fed off that.
“As one of the captains, the players felt comfortable talking to her off the field. And on the field, she kept the team focused and calm, and took care of business.”
In addition to Panziera being voted MVP and Valdivia Coach of the Year, four Wolverines were named to the all-league first team.
Senior forwards Sara Grossman and Sam Deen and midfielder Mimi Precit received the recognition, as well as junior midfielder Lauren O’Neil. During the regular season, Deen led the team in goals with 17, and was tied for the lead in assists with nine. Deen also scored twice in the playoffs. Grossman, another prolific offensive player, scored 16 times in the regular season while posting eight assists.
Voted to the all-league second team were seniors Emily Gannam, Nicole Oxandaboure and Alexis Fallow and sophomore Katie Dill, who tied for second on the team in goals scored during the regular season (16) while collecting six assists.
Freshman Stephanie O’Neil, sophomore Addie Shaffer and junior Michelle Plapp received honorable mention recognition.
And Valdivia said there could have been more Wolverines named to all-league.
Truckee’s boys soccer team ” which finished the season 21-4-1 overall (5-2-1 league) and lost to its always formidable rival, North Tahoe, 2-0, in the 3A state championship ” had some fine players, as well. And they did not go unnoticed by Sierra League coaches.
Voted to the first team were juniors Al Virrey and Emmanuel Sarabia and sophomore Max Brixey, who tied for the team lead in goals during the regular season (15) and led the team in assists with 12. Brixey also scored three goals in the postseason.
Despite opponents keying on Virrey, the Wolverines’ skilled forward still managed 11 goals and eight assists during the regular season, while leading his team with five goals in postseason play. Sarabia also was a force all season, scoring 12 goals and posting 11 assists before playoffs.
Seniors Cole Froelich and Scott Kelly and sophomore Salvador Tejeda were named to the all-league second team.
Tejeda’s 15 goals during the regular season matched Brixey’s team high, and Froelich and Kelly both anchored the Wolverines at midfield.
Senior defender Greg Pearson and junior Joey Eberhardt, a midfielder and defender, received honorable mention recognition.