But by its high standards, Reed girls soccer has been mediocre over the past two seasons. Raiders coach Jason Saville thinks that’s about to change.
“Our chemistry level is as good as it’s been since we last won the North State,” Saville said. “The last couple years we didn’t have some of the same success and I think a lot of that was chemistry. We had cliques. We had some girls only playing to be social. With this group, we’ve got a good hard-working environment, something that had been missing the last two years.”
Saville likes his team’s work ethic and competitiveness but admits this will be one of the youngest RHS varsity teams in the history of the program. The Raiders are carrying three seniors, but only one is expected to start, and three juniors while the rest of the roster is comprised of underclassmen. Saville said he is planning to start at least six and possibly up to eight freshman.
“My biggest area of concern is our lack of experience might lead to some trials and tribulations,” Saville said. “With a young team it will be about how will the girls adapt and react when things don’t go their way. Will those be obstacles and we shut down or will they be challenges we get over?
“The weakness of inexperience won’t be in playing time, but in competing against 17-18 year-old girls when most of our kids have been playing club soccer against 14-15 year-old girls. We’ll be playing against bigger, faster, stronger athletes. There will be a learning curve, but if anybody can do it, this group can.”
Senior defender Haley White is the lone senior starter for Reed, but even she has missed out on valuable playing time after losing her junior season, following an ACL tear. Junior Katelyn Raatz returns for Reed as does sophomore midfielder Kennady Whitehead and sophomore defender Aubrey Ciesynski. That foursome was named as Reed’s captains and is expected to provide a key leadership role for a young team.
Saville has liked what he has seen from his young group through the first two weeks of official workouts.
“We’re feeling pretty good,” he said. “There’s still work to be done, but technically, these girls are so much better than they were last year. A lot of girls last year had a hard time hitting the broad side of barn from 10 yards out. These girls can dribble and pass. It’s exciting. Hopefully, they’ll stay hungry from August all the way through to November. This a young team with a lot of upside.
Reed opens its season Tuesday against two-time defending North champion Douglas.
•At Spanish Springs, the Cougars are coming off their best season in school history, collecting their third straight regional playoff berth, becoming the High Desert League’s runner-up. The SSHS club would like nothing better than to build on that success, but it won’t be easy. Gone is HDL player of the year Laura Voss and her 18 goals.
So how will the Cougars get it done this fall?
“The first two weeks of practice have gone pretty good,” SSHS coach Mike Faker said. “The team seems to be coming together well. The girls are picking things up quicker than I’m used to over the last few years. I think we’ll play well as a team. It may take us a while to get there, but we’ll be good. About halfway through the season we should come into form and be real competitive.”
Senior forward Megan Evans and senior defender/midfielder Caitlin Moreland are expected to take charge in the leadership roles, on and off the field.
“Megan is not a Laura Voss, who creates on her own, but she makes the best runs in the league,” Faker said. “If we get her the ball in the right spots, she’ll score a lot of goals. She’s already taken over as the leader of the team and she’s done a great job, especially being there for of our offseason stuff. Caitlin has been there the whole time too. Those two seniors are working their tails off and everyone is following. They are leaders by example.
Faker said communication and movement will be a key to success for his squad.
“I think we communicate well with each other and we look like we’ll play hard for each other. Our movement should be a strength. We’ve been working on our fitness. Our movement, how we shape up around the ball will be a key,” said the Cougars’ 11th-year coach.
Faker made no bones that his biggest area of concern is offensive execution. If the Spanish Springs team can’t replace the offense of Voss, it could be a long year.
“Scoring goals is a big concern,” Faker said. “Last year, we had some poor games against Damonte, Manogue and McQueen and Laura singlehandedly won or tied those games for us. We don’t have that player anymore. We must be on our game. I don’t know where the scoring is going to come from, but we’ve got a lot kids stepping up and taking shots. Hopefully, we’ll get it done by committee.”
Spanish Springs will scrimmage Damonte and Incline today before playing its season opener Tuesday at home against Wooster.
•At Sparks, The Railroaders coaching staff believes it has one of its most talented and capable teams in recent memory. A handful of experienced returners is the biggest reason for that.
“We have a core of senior starters that have been here their whole career. So that’s promising,” Sparks girls soccer coach Jerry Miller said. “I think senior leadership and our defense should be strengths. Our defense works together really well and the girls cover each other well.”
Senior Roxana Herrera is the Railroaders’ top defender. She teams with senior Lesley Delariva to anchor the SHS back line. Senior Zaira Lara will play both in the midfield and defense and senior Clarisa Jacinto will compete on the wing. That foursome along with junior forward Andrea Gumina should key the SHS attack and provide leadership.
Junior goalkeeper Val Guerrerro is also back after earning an honorable mention all-league award last fall.
Miller likes that aforementioned group but says there is plenty to improve on.
“We’re a little weak on playmakers,” he said. “Last year we had (first-team all-leaguer) Jessica Mendoza but she graduated. This year we’re counting on sophomore Maria Sanchez to fill that role. Our overall team speed is a little slow. We could be faster and in better shape. We’ll need to play smarter and more compact.”
The Railroaders make their season debut at home Tuesday at 5 p.m. against Dayton.