Wolverines again are soccer savvy
First-year varsity soccer coach Hernan Valdivia likes the position he stepped into, for reasons any coach would.
“We have an extremely good group of guys,” Valdivia said of his Wolverines. “They make it real easy to coach.”
Besides being a classy group ” as opposed to a defiant bunch of rebels intent on giving a new coach a hard time ” the Wolverines make Valdivia’s job easier with sheer athletic ability and adroit soccer skills, he said.
“We’re looking really good this year,” senior team captain Scotty Eberhardt said. “We have really good energy. … We have a strong defense and midfield. I don’t think we have any weaknesses right now.”
With that said ” from one of the team leaders ” the Wolverines are seeking a 3A state title. But, like every year, the route to the boys soccer state championship has bumps, in the form of North Tahoe.
“North Tahoe always comes out with a strong team,” Eberhardt said. “They’ll be no worse than last year.”
Last year, the Lakers defeated Truckee in the state finals, so the rivalry should be fully intact, and fueled by feelings of redemption.
“I think they (Truckee players) are playing with a little bit of a chip on their shoulders from last year,” Valdivia said.
While Eberhardt ” whom Valdivia said the team is rallying around because of his strong leadership ability and skill level ” cannot find a team weakness, his coach thinks there is one hole that needs to be filled.
“At this point it’s scoring,” Valdivia said. “We need to be able to stick the ball in the back of the net. We’re going to have to figure out a way to do that.”
One offensive option is senior forward Erik Newland, a team captain whose large stature is likely to be an intimidating factor when barreling down upon defenders.
Newland, when asked to compare this year’s team to last year’s, said the main difference is team unity.
“We’re all on the same page this year,” Newland said. “Last year we had a lot of skill, but this year we have way more team chemistry. I think there will be a lot of team play, not selfish play.”
Another improvement this year, Newland said, is the addition of Valdivia.
“He’s an excellent coach,” Newland said. “He’s definitely the best coach I’ve had in high school. He knows what he’s doing and he knows how to have fun with us.”
Senior defender Kevin Flynn, who rounds off the list of team captains, agreed with Newland regarding Valdivia.
“We’ve got an awesome coach this year,” Flynn said. “Hernan definitely knows what he’s doing.”
Quality coaching and veteran leadership aside, the Wolverines are also stacked with young talent, with three sophomores and two freshman on the 20-player roster.
Valdivia said freshman Ryan Newland ” Erik Newland’s little brother ” and sophomore Will Akers will be competing for the goalie position. Although the two are young, Valdivia said, he is confident in their ability to thwart opponent scoring.
Another player to watch, Valdivia said, is senior midfielder and forward Eric Dita.
“He’s going to be a monster in league,” Valdivia said.
With so many strengths on the field for this year’s boys soccer team. Newland offered a prediction as to the outcome of the season.
“Just look for us to win state,” he said. “It will be fun to watch.”