Truckee soccer: State champs rounding into form
With the exception of some recognizable staples — scoring machine Manny Sarabia and his signature hair and cat-quick goalie Gabby Serna, to name a couple — the Truckee boys soccer team is full of new faces.
Such is the case after a championship season.
The Wolverines, who last year won an NIAA-record eighth state title in a thrilling shootout, are looking to regain their team chemistry after graduating nine seniors, including the league MVP.
“I think we’re going to be a strong competitor. The thing we’re working on is adjusting to the loss of all our seniors,” said Truckee coach Casey Eberhardt. “We have a bunch of new players, and it’s just a matter of getting everybody used to playing with each other.”
Truckee got off to a slow start in the Howell Memorial Tournament this past weekend, losing to Bishop Gorman and Galena by a combined score of 9-1 on the first day. The Wolverines found their groove on Day 2 and took care of business with a 3-2 win over Faith Lutheran and a 5-1 win over McQueen.
Looking more like the squad that finished 20-4-3 last season, Truckee defeated a tough Incline team, 3-1, on Wednesday.
“I think (Wednesday) night’s win showed that we’re improving with each game,” Eberhardt said. “Our first couple games really showed where our weaknesses were.”
While the Wolverines lost the core of their 2014 team to graduation, including Thomas Arnstein, who set a Division I-A single-season record with 45 goals, they also return some key pieces.
Sarabia, Truckee’s second-leading scorer as a sophomore last year, is poised for a big season at halfback and forward. Same goes for Serna, a senior All-League goalie, and junior midfielder Zack Barta, also an All-League talent. The three share the title as co-team captains.
“I think Manny is going to be a force this year,” Eberhardt said. “We’ve had six games and he already has seven goals. It’s also huge having Gabby back, and Zack Barta will dictate our style of play in the midfield. He’s a calming force.”
Aside from the captains, Eberhardt expects a solid season from senior forward Alex Lopez (formerly Colomenares), who missed much of last season, as well as junior fullbacks Steven Lopez and Zach Williams. All three received All-League honorable mention in 2014.
Joining Sarabia on the goal-scoring front should be juniors Hugo Gutierrez and Jose Gonzalez and sophomore Joel Garcia. Eberhardt said Sarabia, Gonzalez and Alex Lopez are the fastest players on the team.
Defensively, Williams and Steven Lopez are joined by juniors Max Kringal, Kyle Nicely and Randy Ruiz. The group is learning to play together after the loss of All-League defenders Nick Oberriter and Jake Lahr.
“We lost a lot at every position. But with Manny stepping up and Alex back, we have a good mix and similar quality,” Eberhardt said. “We’re just a different team and play a little differently now. But our same possession and counter-attack style of play is still there.”
As far as Truckee’s Northern Division I-A, Eberhardt expects the usual suspects to contend. First on that list is Sparks, Truckee’s nemesis and defending regional champ, but also South Tahoe and Elko. The Wolverines are set to open league play at home against Sparks next Wednesday, Sept. 9.
Truckee’s schedule and roster are available at http://www.maxpreps.com.