What can the Carson High girls soccer team do for an encore?
How do the Senators replace scoring machine Kenzie Tillitt in the midfield, goalkeeper Emmy Heller and all-around standout Michelle Sandage plus defenders Shannon Flaherty and Allysa Hayes?
Those are fair questions to ask after the Senators compiled a 16-2-2 record en route to a regional championship and made an appearance in the Division I state tournament in Las Vegas where they lost on penalty kicks to Green Valley-Henderson.
Greg Lehman, back for his second season at the helm, has nine players returning who saw action last year and two more, Josilyn Daggs and Lindsay Hettrick, who are returning from injuries that forced them to miss the entire 2012 season. So obviously the cupboard isn’t totally bare. He also has six newcomers up from a talented JV squad.
Heading the list of returners is Daggs, who is expected to sign with the University of Idaho later this year. Also back are midfielder-forward Kiahna Pimental, forward-midfielder Jaime Perez, midfielder-forward Chantal Torres, forward-midfielder Julie Torres, forward-midfielder Mayra Olivares, forward-midfielder Lorena Gomez, defender-midfielder Lindy Lehman, midfielder-defender Hettrick, defender Katherine Leist and midfielder-forward-keeper Karla Reyes. Newcomers to the team are defender Teresa Boehmer, defender Melissa Glanzmann, defender Andrea Maffei, midfielder Sierra Scroggins, Sammy Gutierrez and Valarie-Sue Meyer. Bailee Zuber is out with an injury and Danielle Sandage isn’t returning to the squad.
Lehman knows the Senators will have a target on their backs this year, and he also knows that there are some outstanding players returning who will have to take on bigger roles.
“They were outstanding players,” said Lehman of the departed seniors. “A lot of these (returning) girls played alongside those girls and some watched (and learned). The girls worked hard in the spring and summer and are ready to step in. These players know the level they are expected to play at.
“This is good group. They are talented and organized and ready to play. We have a lot of players who can play 2-3 positions. We’re very versatile and that can help us.”
Reyes has some big shoes to fill in replacing Heller, who was one of the best keepers in the state the past two years.
“Reyes is great with her feet,” Lehman said. “She judges balls in the air well. She always gives 100 percent and has a great attitude.”
The Senators have always played great defense under both Lehman and previous coach Randy Roser. Don’t expect that to change a whole lot despite losing Flaherty and Hayes to graduation and Zuber to injury. Lindy Lehman, Leist, Meyer, Glanzmann. Maffei and Boehmer are battling for the four starting spots. Coach Lehman also has the luxury of dropping Hettrick to the back line if needed.
Having Daggs back gives the Senators some speed up front.
“Josilyn worked hard in the off-season to get ready,” Lehman said. “As far as what percent she’s at (health-wise), I don’t know because I didn’t see her before she got hurt. She played with (Olympic Development Program) and didn’t have any problems. I’m not sure if she’s going to have to wear her brace or not. She can be a force. If teams try to double-team her that will open up other players like Kiahna, Mayra, Chantal and Jaime.”
Carson’s season gets started with a home match on Sept. 3 against Reno at 7 p.m.