Since Fallon’s realignment to the Division I-A, the boys soccer team has been unable to crash the state’s biggest tournament.
For the past two years, however, the Greenwave have reached the regional tournament but has been stymied. Last year it was a 1-0 loss to Truckee and the year before it was a loss to rival Elko.
While Fallon lost all-state goalie Ian Foster and goal scorers Chuy Lopez and Junior Martinez to name a few, coach Nate Waite’s expectations remain the same. To win a state title.
“Our expectations never change,” Waite said. “We are making a few modifications. Our program is built on a few philosophies (hard work and unity). I think all the way from the front to the back (lines), we’ve added a lot of talent.”
Speed, skill and power are a hard combination to overcome. Those attributes, though, are why Waite believes his squad has what it takes to earn the club’s first state berth.
Senior Kevin Rutledge provides speed, as the lightening fast forward set a school record with 20 goals last season. But Rutledge’s game is more than chasing down a ball sent over the top, though.
He can work past defenders and shoot from the outside. While Rutledge is coming off a historic season, he will not be alone.
His wingmen consist of Tristan Parrot and Fidel Enriquez, who Waite expects will give opposing defense’s headaches.
“I see new wrinkles to his attack,” Waite said of Rutledge. “He (Enriquez) is going to make a lot of defenses nervous. The combination of him, Kevin and Tristan will cause people problems.”
The midfield, meanwhile, is littered with talent. Junior Corbin Waite, who broke his ankle early last season and missed about five weeks, returns. In addition, Miguel Carrero, Raymundo Martinez and Mario Ugalde provide the skill to transition from defense to offense and use the team’s speed to counter attack.
Defensively, sophomore Josh Moulton, a bulldozer on the back line, leads a group anxious to lock down opponents. Joining Moulton will be Miguel Saenzpardo, Dylan Jones and Robby Davis, who is perhaps one of the best defenders in the league.
In net, Brandon Holler gets his time to shine. The junior netminder sat for two years behind Foster and patiently waited for his turn.
Now Holler has his chance and Waite sees a limber, quick and smart player defending the goal.
“People forget Brandon Holler has been on our roster since his freshman year,” Nate Waite said. “He’s a lot quicker, a lot stronger and has the height. He’ll be fine.”
League changes have altered the landscape, not only in soccer, but with most of the sports in the Northern DI-A. The Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association and athletic directors opted out of the pod system this year, which leaves the league with a true format.
Last season was a disaster, as the NIAA ruled, in midseason, to change which league matches counted for playoff seeding and created a DIII tournament as well.
Now, Waite said, there is continuity within the league. The league consists of nine schools (like in football) and each team has a home-and-home series with every opponent.
“I am very pleased with how the league is set up,” Waite added. “I’m happy to be challenged because that gives us more chance for growth.”
In addition, the girls and boys will play at opposite locations this season, which Waite said is another benefit. Now he can watch the JV squad and evaluate those players for consideration to move up to varsity later in the season.
“It helps build a culture in your program,” he said. “They can watch the more experienced players and learn from them.”