The quest continues for a berth in the state tournament for the Fallon boys soccer team.
As in the past several years, the road to the state runs through Sparks and Truckee. But the Greenwave are optimistic they can clear the hurdle and make a run.
Fitness is a priority and the summer program created by coach Nate Waite put the onus on the players to be prepared before tryouts and practice began last week. Numerous players passed the exam, which consisted of a two-mile run in 14 minutes. Still, the boys are working hard to develop their endurance as the Wave opens the season Sept. 5-6 at the Spring Creek tournament.
“My expectations are to go deep into the playoffs,” Waite said. “That’s always are expectation. To take a step a back is something we would never accept.”
Fallon’s numbers, meanwhile, are down this season and Waite was forced to scrap the JV team. He kept 20 players on varsity, although he made no promises of playing time for those younger players.
His goal is to win and that proposition cannot afford to develop the younger players during match play. Practice is where the intensity begins starting with Waite and his senior leaders including Corbin Waite, Austin Bischoff, Tristan Parrott and Fidel Enriquez.
The four seniors are aching to return to the pitch and make a run for the Division I-A state tournament.
“We are expecting to score a lot of goals,” Parrott said. “We are expecting to get to the playoffs and get to state this year. That’s a pretty good goal.”
The quartet presents an offensive headache for opposing defenses. Enriquez set the school record with five goals in one match last season (and second most in DI-A history), while Waite was named first-team all-state as a midfielder.
Parrott and Bischoff provide speed up top and a nose for the goal, Enriquez’s powerful right boot is his weapon of choice and Waite is solid in the air winning 50/50 balls and breaking down the defense. Coming off the bench, meanwhile, is the up-and-coming offensive threat Trevor Davis.
“We have a good, strong midfield and good attack,” Bischoff said. “Our defense is coming together, too. I think we will be better this year.”
Although Waite leads the midfield, he is flanked by a pair of solid playmakers in Pedro Barajas and Mario Ugalde. Nate Waite, meanwhile, declined to disclose his preferred formation, but stressed the chemistry between his midfield and forwards will put pressure on opposing defense.
Regardless of the formation, Waite said with Barajas and Ugalde flanking Corbin Waite, Fallon’s midfield will be a strength.
“With that middle (Corbin Waite, Barajas and Ugalde), they will support and give them (the offense) the balls that they need to get results,” Nate Waite said. “I feel like he (Corbin Waite) is more confident. He sees the big picture more and will be able to distribute.”
Defensively, the Wave trots out a strong and athletic backline. Responsible for clogging up the middle are centerbacks Miguel Saenzpardo and Manuel Gonzalez. At rightback is Josh Moulton, while Omar Madera will hold down the left side.
In addition, Nate Waite said junior defender Michael McCormack has impressed through the summer and fall camp, which will lead to meaningful minutes.
“These guys are physically stronger than we were last year,” Waite said. “I just hope they don’t hurt too many people.”
Their jobs are to make life easy on sophomore goalkeeper Miguel Perez, who played in the midfield last season. Although he is not season between the pipes, Waite said Perez is improving each day in practice and has the talent to become one of the league’s best.
Attitude, maturity and leadership have improved. The experience and team chemistry are other intangibles the club has upgraded.
“We are way ahead of last year,” Corbin Waite said. “I feel we are better now than we were at midseason last year.”
Fitness and the technical skills such as dribbling and passing are two tangible areas Waite has seen better performances heading into the season.
“I feel like our starting crew is going to fit together really well,” Nate Waite added. “Up front we have better touch.”
The elusive goal, however, is a berth in the state tournament. In the way, though, are powerhouses Sparks and Truckee along with Elko, South Tahoe and a pesky Lowry club.
“It’s no secret that our league is very talented,” Nate Waite said. “I think one really important thing is we have to have the attitude and confidence in ourselves. This year isn’t defined by last year.”