Wolverines shoot for fourth straight state title
Since 1994, the Tahoe-Truckee girls’ soccer team has achieved an incredible 111-2-3.
As if that isn’t enough, the team also boasts winning the Nevada state soccer championships every year since being integrated into Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association in 1996, and has never lost a league game.
In line with this tradition, last year’s Wolverines claimed the state championship with a perfect 28-0 record, leaving this year’s team with few improvements to make.
And much to the chagrin of the opposition, last year’s team and this year’s team are very much the same. The 1999 squad, comprising nine seniors, six juniors and seven sophomores (several of whom are potential starters), lost only one starting senior from the previous year.
A majority of the Wolverines’ weapons are back and their sights appear to be set on a fourth consecutive state championship.
One significant change that occurred is that Larry Young replaced Doug Roberts as Tahoe-Truckee’s head coach.
No stranger to the program, Young was Roberts’ assistant for the last two years.
Young also has been an American Youth Soccer Organization coach for 14 years and has served as the regional chief in charge of all soccer coaching in the Truckee region.
Tom Pratt is Young’s assistant.
With a couple of scrimmages under their belt, the Wolverines have already had the opportunity to flex a little muscle.
Competing against Reed, considered to be a contender for the 4A state title, the Tahoe-Truckee girls, led by Emma Backlund (a.k.a. “Sweden”), won 2-1. Backlund, a senior exchange student from Sweden, has been playing with the team for about a week and, according to Young, will “definitely be playing this season.”
Rebecca Shook, also a senior, will be a returning. Playing at the center forward position, Shook scored 65 goals last season, the most in Nevada. Though on injured reserve with “muscle/skeletal things out of whack,” Shook is expected by Young to return to the field soon.
Another injured reserve senior is Quincy Young. Young, once playing as the center mid-out, is recovering from knee surgery and as a result is being coached at midfield.
Among the intact seniors is Megan Martin. Martin, according to coach Young, is “multifaceted.”
“She is able to play any position on the field well and will be a major factor in our success. She is a very dominant player,” said coach Young.
Jill Marchi is another key player. Because of her speed and athleticism, coach Young said that she’ll play as an outside forward where she will “mark up on the opponent’s fastest player.”
Natalie Bergman is a probable starter at left forward, Shauna Murray will be adding to “midfield control” as a midfielder, Katie Mickelson has volunteered herself as back-up goalie (as last year’s back up graduated) and Lindsay Manetta will play at the sweeper position, thus rounding out the list of seniors.
Starting as the goalkeeper is Leilani Mullen. Now in her junior year, Mullen has been starting since she was a freshman.
Sophomores Natalie Pratt and Kirsten Seitz, who started as freshmen, will return. Pratt will likely be playing as a mid-fielder while Seitz is looking at either being at midfield or a stopper.
Splitting time between midfield and forward will be another member of the Pratt family, Cali Pratt.
Also playing for the Wolverines are sophomores Julie Rueckheim, Sylvia Lopez, Nicole Felix, Stacey Cook and Kristine Bena and juniors Krista Anderson, Katie Groden, Lisa Kucera and Megan Minnick.
One of the biggest problems for almost all the games is getting the girls “motivated for practice,” said coach Young.
There are distinct exceptions with Tahoe-Truckee’s two main rivals, North Tahoe and Incline.
Incline, who hosts the Wolverines in the season opener on Sept. 7, played the Truckee girls in last year’s state championship game. The two teams finished regulation tied 2-2. The Wolverines won 3-2 on a penalty kick in overtime.
Incline is one of four teams that the girl’s soccer team will be facing in Surprise Stadium. Scheduled for Oct. 26, the stadium will also host games on Sept. 18, Oct. 19 and Oct. 30. Both the boys’ and girls’ soccer coaches are very excited about playing on the feature field and encourage people to come and see “some real soccer.”
The team will play 18 league games this season and participate in three tournaments, one of which they host on Sept. 10-11.
“From our 1997 team, two girls made NCAA division I soccer teams,” said coach Young, “We’re at a caliber of play so that the highest level of college soccer is a reality for some of the girls.”
Young went on further to say that part of the high school’s responsibility is to teach kids to move on to a higher lever, both physically and mentally.
“We’re preparing kids to move on … to play at a higher level,” said Young.
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The Truckee boys’ soccer team shutout its third straight opponent on Saturday, taking a 5-0 win at home against Dayton.