“We don’t have one big large goal like to win league or regionals or state. We’re taking it one game at a time,” Saville said. “Our team goal is to win the first game of the season, and the goal after that will be to win the second one. The other goal I have for ourselves is to make sure that we’re playing for each other. If that’s a goal we can accomplish, then I think we’re going to be okay meeting some of those other goals. If we do that, everything else will just take care of itself.”
The one-game approach Saville has established for his team is reminiscent of the team mentality, with no importance placed on one player more than another.
“I have high hopes for all 19 players on the team,” Saville said. “My expectation is that we have 19 players on the roster and all 19 players need to contribute one way or another to what our goal is. If we don’t have 19 players on the same page, it doesn’t really matter if we have one or two superstars.”
With a strong team concept and a schedule full of what amounts to one-game championships, Saville said his team is ready for any hurdles that may come its way.
“These girls are adaptable. They’ve adjusted to several systems we’ve tried out so far and done well with them all,” Saville said. “They’re just very adaptable and are willing to overcome the obstacles that get laid in front of them.”
Similar to Reed’s latest drought in the playoffs, the rest of the Hig Desert League has also struggled to compete in postseason play in recent years. It is something that Spanish Springs coach Mike Faker wants to fix.
“One of my goals and one of our team goals is to try to win our division,” Faker said. “Our division over the last probably five years has really struggled in the playoffs. I think in the last three or four years all four of our division’s teams in the playoffs have lost in the first round. So I’d like to change that. I’d like to get first in our division and then we’d have a better opportunity of getting into the second round of the playoffs.”
In order to accomplish that goal, Faker said the Cougars will need to transition from a defensive squad to one that can also put some balls into the back of its opponent’s net.
“We have to score more goals. Last year we were a very defensive team, so if we made some mistakes and got scored on, it was tough for us to come back,” Faker said. “We’re trying to get a little more offensive this year. Trying to be a little more dangerous and score more goals.”
Part of the reason Faker is optimistic his team will be able to put goals on the scoreboard is the fresh legs that will be on the pitch.
“We only have 17 kids on our roster, so we have a pretty small varsity roster. Out of that 17 though, the thing that is nice is I’m pretty sure everyone is going to be able to play. I think we’re going to be able to rotate a lot of kids and we’ll get a lot of playing time out of everybody. In a long season like high school that is real quick and there’s a lot of games, it really helps to be deep and be able to get a lot of different kids out on the field.”
For the other Rail City squad, the hopes are much the same.
“It’s a coaching cliché, but we’re taking it one game at a time,” Sparks coach Jerry Miller said. “I just try to prepare them the best I can for each game and the way it shakes out is the way it shakes out. We always look just to strengthen the program, but I really think we can make the playoffs. We need to win games and make the playoffs. We’ve only done it once before, but I’m thinking this is the year. From what I’ve seen in the scrimmages, we can make the playoffs this year and that’s our goal.”
The Railroaders will be counting on their core group of seniors that are returning with experience from last year to lead the way. That includes senior captains Andrea Gumina and Val Guerrero, as well as Ana Torres. The senior leadership is key because of the amount of Sparks players that are fresh to the game of soccer.
“Every year we have a large turnover and it’s usually creates the same issues for us. At Sparks, we have a lot of girls that really don’t have a lot of experience playing soccer. They haven’t played at all. So we start off teaching them the basics and getting them to understand the game. Every year that is an issue for us.”
Despite the amount of newly exposed players, Miller is excited about the season.
“I think if any year was the year for us to make the playoffs, this is it.”