Young but tough
The Greenwave varsity boys soccer team has arguably the youngest lineup of any the Wave’s fall teams, and if luck favors Fallon, it might prove to be one of the toughest.
Coach Miguel Orduna has his first chance to introduce a team of nine freshmen, two sophomores and four seniors to the Northern 3A in their road scrimmage today at 6 p.m. against the North Valleys High School Panthers, the defending 4A champions.
“We need to have a good tune-up game just to have these kids realize the competitive level is way, way, way different,” Orduna said. “A lot of these kids came from the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) program in the area so they’re not used to the aggressiveness, the speed, anything.”
Though official tryouts ended Saturday, the Wave has been practicing on the Churchill County High School soccer field since early March trying to grow younger players into ready athletes, as well as trying to recruit as many bodies as possible, which Orduna said, is why the team is still conducting tryouts.
“It’s going to be a long season for us again,” he said. “We’re struggling with numbers and we were hoping to have a good junior varsity team when we started all workouts in the spring. It was looking good like we were going to have a total of 30 kids coming out, but we lost six players to football and two moved to California, two kids who had a lot of potential to grow. We also lost a couple more who just didn’t want to come back in the end.”
Orduna also said he was hopeful the team would gain more numbers before school begins and is putting the word out to players in the community since his current team stands at 16 with the bulk of its cast young. However, Orduna said he has seen strength thus far in his last years defenders such as Nick and Chase Sanchez as well as Nick Kulick returning to the team.
“Pretty much all of my defenders from last year came back,” he said. “So we’re strong in having a good, solid defense and we’ll just have to work on our offense and getting all these really young kids to adapt to this new style of play.”
Also returning from last year is Marcus Nixon, who will help lead the team as one of its veterans and guide the younger players.
“Marcus grew substantially from last year to this year,” Orduna said. “His knowledge of the sport has grown substantionally from last year tot his year.”
Offensively, Luis Orozco also returns to the cast of strikers seen early last year, though, his playtime was limited due to a knee injury — one of the many unfortunate injuries which crippled last year’s team.
Orozco isn’t the only weapon Orduna has been looking at with freshman Kevin Duenas playing fullback this year, already making a name for himself on the roster as a powerful leg.
“Kevin is only a freshman and it’s amazing what he’s done already,” Orduna said. “If he sticks around for the next couple of years, Fallon is going to be turning some heads. That’s the one thing we’re very excited about.”
Kevin is joined by his family Brian Duenas who, along with Brian Ugaldi and Giovanni Ugaldi, are among the new players. Matthew Knight, Caden Bowan, Johnathan Barajas, Andrew Noriega, Erik Orozco, Cesar Molina and Jose Gonzalez fill out the team’s current roster.
“Between Kevin, Brian, Giovanni, we have a lot of strength,” Orduna said. “You can tell they’re still learning coming off of the AYSO program where it’s not very dynamic so they’re playing catchup, but since we started in the spring throughout the summer they’ve grown so much. Especially Kevin. We’ve already nicknamed him “Beast” because he’s unstoppable in the back. For a freshman he has a lot of passion.”
After this weekend the Wave’s first league match is at home Sept. 9 against the Truckee Wolverines, which gives Orduna time to attract as many willing to play as possible.
“We’re literally almost begging for anyone who wants to come play and wants to be able to learn the sport and get better at it to come join us,” he said. “We haven’t had a JV team from 2014 which was the last time the younger squad was filled. That’s our feeder program for the guys you see here. We have a lot of talent either unsure or missing the information but if they want to come play, these kids don’t realize they only have four years of high school and that’s it. Orduna added that many who would’ve been on the team who weren’t lost to other sports have to work and support themselves, though, he said Nthe team presents ways we can work around that with a lot of sponsorships throughout the year.
“We look at the AYSO program and think ‘where are these kids going after the AYSO?’” Orduna said. “A lot of them are up and coming freshmen or are freshmen already. But we’ll take anyone we can get even if they’re at the lowest skill level.That’s what we’re here for, to build them up. Varsity level it is tough, we’re not going to lie about that. It’s aggressive. It’s very different, very fast-paced, but we have several good players.”
Though a foreseeable group of sixteen makes a shallow bench, as Fallon should remember when its reserve players felt the pressure last year, Orduna said he isn’t worried with the current cast, though, he hopes to increase it.
“I’m very optimistic about it,” he said. “I’m not discouraged at all and these guys aren’t discouraged at all either. We definitely have a different dynamic and a tougher league, but we welcome it. That’s just one way to learn.”