The biggest news in high school soccer in the off-season was disbanding the 2A and having two 3A divisions.
If you’re a Dayton High fan, you should have jumped up and did your version of the happy dance.
The DHS boys and girls teams have struggled mightily the last few years, and this realignment or reshuffling if you will, gives the Dust Devils a true chance to compete.
Instead of going against powerhouses like Truckee, Sparks, Fallon and South Tahoe, the Dust Devils will be grouped with Fernley, Yerington, Lovelock, Battle Mountain, White Pine, Whittell and West Wendover. Lovelock fields just a girls soccer team.
The other league has Fallon, North Tahoe, Incline, Truckee, Sparks, South Tahoe, Elko and Spring Creek. Dayton’s new division will get three teams into the regionals and the stronger division gets five into the postseason.
“I think it’s fair,” Dayton boys coach Luis Melgarejo said. “We are such a small school, and we’ve had to compete against much bigger schools who have more players to choose from.
“I know the Yerington coach and they are (already) in the division we are going to be playing, and West Wendover ended up in first place.”
Jared Miklich, Dayton’s girls coach also likes the change.
“I think it helps us,” he said. “Finally we play schools closer to us in size and ability level. They have been looking at this change for a few years.”
The travel will be interesting. Instead of Lowry, Spring Creek and Elko, Dayton will have to go to White Pine, West Wendover and Battle Mountain. Miklich said there will be at least one overnight trip.
Melgarejo’s team went 3-10-3 last season, and the Dayton coach is hoping for better production this fall.
“We finally have an actual varsity team with more than half of the players being juniors (7) and seniors (6),” he said. “These juniors and seniors have been playing against older, stronger guys for the past three years, so I feel optimistic in saying that it’s our turn to be the aggressor of the league.”
Midfielder Victor Gomez and defensive midfielder Jacob Duran are the top returnees. Gomez scored seven goals and added two assists, and Duran added four goals and five assists.
“Victor is smart, creative and very talented,” Melgarejo said. “Jacob is quick and agile.”
Defenders Jorddy Diaz, Jonathan Torres, Marco Torres and Carlos Landa are expected to stifle opposing defenses.
“Jorddy is fast and aggressive,” Melgarejo said. “Jonathan is an aggressive defender and the best leader on the team. Marco is a very smart player, and Carlos is a fast, solid defender.”
Keeper Gabriel Dums, who had 120 saves last season and stopped two penalty kicks, returns.
The remainder of the roster includes Juan Diaz, Clay Dixon, Jason Duran, Salvador Martinez, Jeffrey Walker, Marco Yanez, Riley Fetters, Oscar Bueno, Bryan Aguilera, Isaac Guadarrama, Peter Miklich, Zach Scott and Keerat Bhullar.
Miklich has 12 returners from a team that went 1-19-3 a year ago.
Jocelyn Avila, Jessica Corona and Kristina Mason, all seniors, return. McKenzie Frazier, Alaura Greenwalt, Claire Holloway and Sydney Strickler are junior returners.
Gemma Acevedo, Natalie Villfana, keeper Nicole Washington, Juliana Diaz and Lynda Zarate are the sophomores on the squad.
Newcomers to the program are senior Jessie Ingham, junior Karla Montano and freshmen Leticia Ledezma-Rubio, Esmeralda Salcedo, Jennifer Lozano and Perla Vega.
Miklich said he’s been working on ways to improve the offense which managed just 12 goals last year.
“We will be working with Nichole Washington as a goalkeeper and she should be seeing some time in the goal this season which will allow Kristina Mason, our starting goalkeeper, some time on the field,” Miklich said.