It seems like only yesterday the Carson High boys soccer team knocked off Wooster twice in the same week to win the regional and state title.
Next Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 31, (3:30 start), the Senators start defense of their titles at Reno.
The Senators have a new look starting at the top. Frank Martinez, the highly successful club coach and last year’ top assistant, is the new head coach.
The team lost leading goal scorer Abel Sanchez, forward-midfielder Brian Llamas, midfielder Jon Limon, back-up goalie Victor Guardado, midfielder Joe Sepulveda, midfielder Jonathan Garcia and defender Sal Rodriguez to graduation.
And, returning forward Rogelio Herrera suffered a knee injury playing club soccer and is lost for the season.
Nontheless, Martinez does have 10 returning players — defender Peter Garrett, midfielder Alejandro Gonzalez, forward-midfielder Gio Hernandez, forward Oscar Ventura, keeper Efren Ramirez, forward Jaime Saldana, defender Guillermo Perez-Morris, defender Christian Martinez, defender-midfieler Osvaldo Gomez and midfielder-forward Ernesto Lamas — all of whom saw significant action a year ago.
Needless to say he has high hopes for this squad.
“I’m looking forward to this season, and continuing what we started last year,” Martinez said prior to Wednesday’s practice. “We are going to shoot for going to state. That’s my goal. If you don’t set goals, you can’t reach them.
“I’d rather be the hunted than the hunter because that means you are already at the top, Last year there wasn’t a lot of pressure on us. Everybody will be ready for us this year.”
Martinez sees a dogfight in the Sierra between Wooster, Galena and his team.
“Wooster will always be good,” he said. “They have a good program and good coaches. I like it, I enjoy the challenge (of competing with them). Galena has a lot of competitive (club) players. They are a physical team that is well organized.”
Carson was swept by Wooster in the regular season, but beat the Colts twice by 2-1 scores in the postseason.
The loss of Herrera is huge. Herrera, Sanchez and Ventura all scored 10 or more goals last year. Ventura is currently coming back from an injury. Martinez originally hoped Herrera would be back this season.
“I don’t think he will play this season,” Martinez said. “He didn’t have the surgery, and his dad doesn’t want him to play. At least he had last year (winning state title).
“I think we have enough firepower offensively. I train my boys to play any field position. Other players are going to have to step up.”
Saldana and Gonzalez are the top two candidates at forward. Ventura also will be in the mix once he’s 100 percent from his injury.
“Alejandro is a great striker; a great finisher,” Martinez said. “He has good speed.”
Hernandez, Danny Manzo (up from JV), Perez-Morris, Lamas and Isael Lopez are the top midfielders. Martinez said Perez-Morris and Hernandez have the skills to play up top.
“Perez-Morris is a lot stronger this year,” Morris said. “He has great skills.”
The back row is led by Garrett, the Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year, Christian Martinez and Gomez, all of whom started last year. Carson’s defense was solid, giving up 18 scores in 21 games. Raul Lopez, who played for Martinez’s Pumas squad, is vying for playing time on defense.
Ramirez was outstanding in goal last year, and he should be even better this year.
The experience on defense should pay dividends.
“It’s huge,” Martinez said. “They all know each other, and they all know how I want to play.”
Rounding out the squad are Edward Porter, Ismael Flores, Jesse Lopez, Jose Rodriguez, Ramon Rojas and Trinity Ramirez.
Carson girls eye deep playoff run
Coach Greg Lehman returns eight players from last year’s 14-4-1 team that reached the regional semifinals.
Top scorers Isabella Wakeling (14 goals, 1 assist) and Mallory Otto (9 goals, 1 assist) both return. Also returning are top defenders Valerie Sue Meyer, Hailey Palotas and Brynn Lehman. In the midfield, Sophia Ruedy returns, and Molly Otto (2 goals, 3 assists) and Lauren Hudak (2 goals, 8 assists) return up front.
Valeria Martinez, a sophomore, is fighting for a spot on the back row while varsity newcomers Yanitzia Galvin, Galilea Cid and Micah Merriner are new midfielders. Vanessa Camarena and Miriam Villa are the keepers, and both are new varsity players. Alana Burson, Viridiana Cacho, Hannah Golik and Jasmine Peralta round out the 18-person roster.
Making the playoffs is usually a foregone conclusion, and Lehman wants to keep it that way. The Sierra League has always been the stronger of the two northern Nevada leagues, and this year is no exception. Douglas and Bishop Manogue figure to give the Senators all they can handle.
“I really like this group of girls,” Lehman said. “It’s a good group of kids on and off the field. We lost some good players (Lindy Lehman, Melissa Glanzmann, Andrea Maffei, Nahim Gutierrez, Julie Torres and Samantha Bishop), but we have a lot of talent left. We are going to be a team to be reckoned with.
“We want to qualify for the post-season, make the regional finals and then go from there.”
State is in Las Vegas this year which means only the northern regional champ advances.
Goals often times proved hard to come by last season. Carson averaged 2.2 per contest. Wakeling was a force last year, and Mallory Otto gave CHS a lot of firepower coming off the bench.
Lehman has several forwards on his roster, and he’s considering playing three up top instead of two.
“Isabella looks great,” Lehman said. “She had a strong season last year. I think we have a handful of girls (Mallory and Molly Oto and Hudak) who can score, and if the opposition tries to zero in on Isabella it will open things up for the other girls. Molly and Mallory brought energy off the bench last year, and that’s what I look for in that role.”
Meyer, who missed a few games because of club soccer, apparently is going to be with Carson for the entire season. That will be a big plus. Lehman said Saint Mary’s College-Moraga is interested in her.
“It’s her senior year, and she decided to commit to the high school team,” Lehman said. “She brings experience, and I think she is a really good player. She is very athletic.
“Defensively, I think we will be very strong. We had some good players in back last year. We lost some good players, but this group (of defenders) looks good.”
Lehman wants to build depth as always.
“Everybody is training hard,” he said. “We want to be 18 deep. We need to have more depth.”