Suffice to say, the Carson High boys soccer team feels it has some unfinished business in 2013.
The Senators went 9-5-5 last year en route to winning the regional championship and reaching the state semifinals where they dropped a 1-0 heartbreaker to Green Valley.
“Win it all,” coach Mehdi Samii said when asked what could his team do for an encore. “My goal every year is to win it all.”
Needless to say Carson won’t be sneaking up on any Sierra or High Desert teams this year. The Senators enter next Wednesday’s home opener against Reno with a target squarely on their collective backs.
“Absolutely, that is the case,” Samii said, while watching his varsity and JV teams work out inside the small gym at Carson. “I prefer the role of underdog. Last year’s team was last year’s team. They earned their medals. This year’s team is just as talented, but they have to earn it.”
Samii returns four starters — defenders Adam Shoaf and Zach Smith, center midfielder Miguel Ortiz and forward Cristian Hernandez — from last year’s title team. Five others — reserve goalie Gustavo Villagrana, wing Daniel Limon, defender Carlos Alvarado, wing Angel Gomez and center midfielder Mario Escalante — return and are battling for starting jobs.
Samii has six freshmen on his varsity roster, and he indicated that at least one, most likely Josh Guevara, will start. The other freshmen are midfielder Guillermo Hernandez, midfielder Alex Gonzalez, goalie Alex Guevara, forward Oscar Ventura and defender Peter Garrett. Other newcomers to the squad are forward-wing Jose Sepulveda, forward Leonel Maldonado, forward Ryan Galvin, Oscar Galvin, defender Fernando Torres and defender Cristian Cardenas.
“That is a lot of freshmen, but they are a talented group,” Samii said. “We don’t have that much experience. I remember last year we had a few guys playing their first season of varsity and it took six or seven games for us to jell as a team. I’m hoping that is the case again this year, and I’m hoping it’s at the end of the season.”
Youth and academics will play a major role in the success or failure of the team early on. Samii has starters Smith and Alvarado on academic probation for the first three or four games along with Sepulveda and Maldonado.
That leaves Shoaf has the only returning starter on the back line, which worries Samii. Guevara, Cardenas and Torres figure to start the opener against Reno. Samii stresses defense, first and foremost.
“We’re going to find out who we are in those first five or six games,” said Samii, who lost his son and Jon Guevara from last year’s team. “The wings and midfielders are really going to have to help out a lot until we get Zach and Carlos back.”
The final line of defense will be Villagrana, who played superbly when Jose Gonzalez went down with an injury last year. Samii said he would like to see Guevara get plenty of action before the season ends.
Offensively, the biggest loss was Francisco Barrios, who was one of the top scorers on the team. It will be a collective effort to replace Barrios, starting with Hernandez and Maldanado. Samii has a different philosophy this year with his wing attackers.
“We’re going to have three wings on the left and three on the right,” Samii said. “They are going to each get 15 minutes of play. That was the one mistake I made last year is overusing people on the outside. We don’t have as much speed as we did last year.”
Samii will be assisted by Michael Alvarez, George Ortiz and Jorge Guevara. Ortiz is the JV head coach.