Most teams that have reached this level don't lack for confidence. So Douglas High boys soccer coach Milko Vasquez, who has always stressed making sure his teams have had confidence, hasn't had to work that hard at promoting the concept this season.
The Tigers shouldn't lack for confidence heading into this weekend's NIAA 4A State Championships. Douglas is coming off a 1-0 win over South Tahoe in last week's Northern 4A title game.
That win enabled Douglas to avoid having to play defending state champion Bishop Gorman in the semifinals. But the Tigers will still face a challenging semifinal when they face Silverado at 6 p.m. Friday at Damonte Ranch.
In the other semifinal at Damonte, South Tahoe will play Bishop Gorman at 4 p.m. The winners will face each other at 2 p.m. Saturday at Damonte for the title.
"You always push the idea of having confidence," Vasquez said. "It's not like I have had to promote it (this year). They're definitely playing with a lot of confidence."
In Silverado, the Tigers will face a team that beat the South Tahoe 2-1 last year at state to advance to the finals where it lost to Bishop Gorman. Vasquez noted Silverado has several players who have participated in the Olympic Development program.
"They're a pretty quick team," Vasquez said. "They have experience. We have a challenge on our hands. It's never easy."
But Vasquez said he's liked the way his seniors have conducted themselves. "It's really nice to see our senior leadership has stepped it up," Vasquez said.
While there are several keys to the game, Vasquez said the main key is really simple. "It's just got to be our best team effort," he said. "Everybody's just going to have to give their best effort."
And it's likely that goalie Jose Alcaraz will have to continue the play he's demonstrated in the playoffs so far. Along with posting the shutout against the Vikings, Alcaraz also posted a shutout in a 1-0 win against Reed in the zone semifinals. "He's definitely been the MVP of the playoffs," Vasquez said.
But Alcaraz has had plenty of help. Austin Shick, Brian Randall, Kyle Gardner, Ray Kaffer and Geoff Rahe have all played well defensively to help Alcaraz post back-to-back shutouts.
Douglas has also received strong play at midfield from Eddie Vega, Edgar Arceo, Oscar Gonzalez and Andrew Andraski and strong play up front from Dustin Goldade, Robbie Forest and Antoine VandenBulke.
Yerington will begin defense of its NIAA 3A State title when it plays in Friday's state semifinals against Pahrump Valley at 8:40 p.m. at Silverado High in Las Vegas.
Pahrump has plenty of size and is coming off a zone event that it won as the No. 4 seed. Pahrump upset unbeaten and No. 1 seed Faith Lutheran and then upset No. 2 seed Moapa Valley in the finals.
In the other state semifinal at Silverado at 7 p.m. Friday, Moapa Valley will face Truckee. The semifinal winners will play for the state title at 4 p.m. Saturday at Silverado.
Yerington is familiar with Moapa Valley having beaten Moapa 2-1 at the Galena Tournament early in the season. And Yerington was without arguably the state's best all-around player in junior Kayla Lommori, who was out with an injury.
The 6-0 Lommori is back having been named the Northern 3A Player of the Year. Lommori has long arms and is double jointed, so she has received considerable interest from major college programs.
"She has offers from some prominent schools," Yerington coach Anna Aiazzi said. "She knows she wants to stay on the West Coast."
Aiazzi said Lommori should verbally commit to a school relatively soon. "She just wants to be a high school kid," Aiazzi said. "She wants to decide very quickly."
Yerington also has two other players who should move on to the college level in Kiara Ross and Bre Tognoli. Lommori, Ross and Tognoli all train at Carson City's Capital City Volleyball Club.
Ross and Tognoli were also named to the all-Northern 3A first team. Ross has been a versatile performer as she has moved from setter to middle blocker while Tognoli has taken over at setter. "She's a great defensive player," said Aiazzi about Ross.
All of Yerington's players are versatile. Rounding out the lineup are Angela Marracini, an all-Northern 3A second team choice, Rani Williams, Kendra Crowell, Mari Clifton, Courtney Clifton, Brittany Thomas, Dama Cox, Trinity Thom and Alex Roberts.
Yerington has lost all three meetings this year against Truckee, including last week in the zone finals.
"They have an awesome serve receive and they play great defense," Aiazzi said. "They're a great team. They have an assortment of people who can hit the ball."
That being said, Aiazzi added, "I don't think we have played that well," commenting on the three matches with Truckee. "Do I think we can beat them? Yes."