Optimism is running high on the pitch.
With a senior-laden club, the Fallon girls soccer team is shooting for that elusive trip to the Division I-A state tournament.
First, though, the offense must rise to the standard of rivals South Tahoe (the defending state champ) and Truckee.
The Lady Wave’s effort in the offensive third of the field the second half of last season was stymied by a myriad of issues. In-fighting, shooting and a lack of fluid passing through the midfield led to a 2-4-2 finish to the season.
Still, the sour taste of last year’s finish hasn’t seeped its way through summer workouts and the first weeks of practice.
“My expectations are to go to state,” Fallon coach Kelly Spicer bluntly said. “We’ve got the talent. The biggest thing to get us there will be our effort and attitude. We have a lot of seniors, so this is their last ride. There are no more excuses.”
This year, though, seniors Macy Myers and Britney Wallace lead the charge.
Myers anchors the offensive in a dual role as a striker and midfielder and aims to improve after she led Fallon with seven goals and five assists.
Wallace, meanwhile, is just one of the keys in the midfield and offense. Her speed and nose for the ball are just two aspects of her game in sparking counters and breakaways.
Joining her in the attack will be fellow senior Rebecca Mills, who tallied six goals last year, and Kailey Davis.
In the midfield, which Spicer said will be the strength of the club is Wallace, Kayla Biggs, Myers, Melinda Fagundes and Leilani Otuafi. The five, Spicer said, must spark the offense with efficient passing and smart play.
“We have to be aggressive and take shots,” he added. “If the shot’s not there, pass the ball.
Although Myers and Mills found scoring success, the rest of the team was snake bitten. Fallon was outscored 45-36 a season ago including 8-2 in a four-game losing streak toward the end of the year.
“We have a lot more speed up top now,” Wallace said. “It’s going to be a wake-up call for the newer players on varsity. I’m expecting to win in the playoffs and hopefully go to state. I think we all have the same ‘want’ to go to state.”
But the mindset this season, however, is different.
“We have to be aggressive. We have to take shots,” Spicer said. “When the opportunities are there to shoot the ball, shoot it. Our passing will decide what will happen.”
Mayzie Jones, meanwhile, is the foundation of the backline. Her leadership, Spicer said, will be critical in maturing a young, yet, athletic and physical defense.
She will be flanked by a young core that includes a combination of Savannah Sweeney, Lizzy Williams, Sierra Hickox and Madison Perazzo.
“It’s a definitely a younger line … but we’ll work it out,” Jones said. “Hopefully we can get in better shape and stay strong through the whole season. I am always hoping we will go all the way.”
Of course, the two biggest obstacles standing in the Lady Wave’s path to state is South Tahoe and Truckee. Fallon has not tallied a victory against either school in several years, while the Lady Wave’s offense has struggled against the two powerhouses.
Spicer, though, is confident his club can bridge the gap and come out on top this season. The keys, he added, are to possess the ball, make clean, crisp passes and get shots on goal.
Minus a 7-1 loss to Truckee early last year, Fallon’s defense held its own, for the most part, against the Lake Tahoe schools.
“Sometimes our first touch is bad because we are pressuring it,” Spicer said.
Perhaps the biggest asset the defense provides, the veteran coach said, is his backlines aggressive nature. Although several are young or inexperienced at the varsity level, Spicer said none shy away from contact.
“I think with this group they are not afraid of contact,” he added. “You can’t shy away from contact when you play Truckee or South Tahoe.”