Carson girls soccer has youth and speed
Appeal Sports Writer
When encapsulating the Carson High School girls soccer team this season, it’s hard not to think back on what Winston Churchill once said of the Soviet Union: The Lady Senators are a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
Consider if you will what senior defender Michelle “Belle” Fleming, senior midfielder Kristin Rush and fifth-year coach Randy Roser said when asked what to expect when watching this year’s squad.
“I think we’ll have a strong team,” said Fleming, the Sierra League Defender of the Year last season. “This year Randy wants us to play four (defenders). Last year we used three. We’re going to emphasize more defense.”
Rush, a second team All-Sierra League midfielder, feels this team is better on both sides of the ball.
“This year we’re much stronger offensively,” Rush said. “We have a lot more forwards to pick from. We have speed on top. That’s what we’ve used in the past to be successful. Our emphasis will be on speed.
“The fact that we have a lot of (skill players) back, we’ll have more defenders back there with Belle – Ashley (Turner), Lauren (Schulz) and (Sierra League honorable mention) Brandy (Cantley) – it’ll be like a wall to get through them.”
So, Carson, which won the Sierra League championship for a second consecutive season with a 13-1 league record (it went 13-4 overall, losing to McQueen in the first round of the Northern 4A state playoffs), would appear to be an offensive machine that will also have enough defenders to be able to give sophomore goalkeeper Jennifer Johnson all the help she needs.
And that the Senators lost only four seniors – Ann Sinnott, Danielle Moos, Anna Macquarie and Justine Vonrumpf – bodes well for a team that welcomes a group of sophomores flush with success from the junior varsity ranks.
“I think we’re going to hold our own,” Roser said before adding a caveat. “I don’t know how many other teams have 10 sophomores on their team. All of our upperclassmen are good players. Having 10 sophomores makes for a young team. So we have the experience of an older team and the skill of a younger team.
“Our downfall last year was when freshmen and sophomores came into zone, it was a lot of pressure. But I definitely think we’ll hold our own this year.”
Great expectations, no expectations – it all adds up for a mixed message and a general lack of cockiness. And that could be a good thing, especially when looking at the Senators’ forwards, whose skills speak volumes with their deeds alone.
Returning are senior speedburner Kayla Sanchez, a Carson sprinting phenom who had 16 goals and 11 assists for the Senators last year (and who is still recovering from a fractured foot from the track season), and hyperkinetic, hyper-competitive junior Brandi Vega (14 goals and eight assists), who as a midfielder was named the Sierra League’s Offensive Player of the Year and who may see time as a forward this year.
Vega was one of 41 Olympic Development Program players recently to be named to the 1990 Region IV player pool (“She didn’t have an off-season,” Roser said).
Junior Helaine Berris, and sophomores Miriah Tompkins and Emily Field (who will also play as a defender) round out the vanguard of the Senators’ attack.
“It’s no secret we have speed,” Roser said. “But we have three or four other girls just about as fast as Brandi and Kayla. They’re right on their heels. We have speed in the back and front. It’s one of the top teams I’ve had. This is the best mix so far; all 20 girls can play.”
Roser said he would be relying on Rush (who will play on the wing) to distribute the ball as she sees fit, as will other returning midfielders such as Amanda Osborne (a 2006 second teamer and who will play in the middle), Alli Collier, Rebecca Kane, Brenda Luquin and Taylor Mussleman (another ODP player), who along with sophomores Krystina Kane (who controlled the center for the JV team last year) and Megan Jackson will double back on defense as well.
Kane, Carson’s returning Most Valuable Player, scored four goals and added six assists last season and Roser will be looking to her even more this year.
“Rebecca Kane controls the pace,” Roser said. “She’ll try to hit Brandi, Kayla and Helaine Berris. (Returning junior) Alli Collier is a true winger, stays wide and is a very defensive midfielder and a great asset for us. Miriah Tompkins on the wing, Mussleman and Luquin (five goals, three assists) played in the middle a lot last year.”
Roser said Fleming will captain the back row of Cantley (a senior), Schulz (a junior), sophomores Turner, Samantha Fishburn, Field and Julianne King (yet another ODP player), all of whom should give Johnson a helping hand in keeping the ball out of the net.
“Jen Johnson worked a lot all this spring,” Roser said. “She’s actually a very good goalkeeper now.”
Roser also said he likes this squad’s collective personality.
“It’s a very composed team,” Roser said. “I don’t see a lot of head cases who, when things don’t go right, they lose their heads. They’re not going to panic if they’re down 1-0. They’re going to build attacks and take advantage of their speed. It will be fun soccer to watch.”
Roser said other teams to watch in the Sierra League will be South Tahoe, Douglas and Reno and that Damonte Ranch has worked its way into the mix.
“It will be a fast, interesting season for sure,” Roser said. “We need to finish in the top four (of the Sierra League) to be sure to finish the season in zone. We’ll see what happens from there. If we train and work hard, the winning takes care of itself. We’ll try and take it slow.”
Carson, looking for its first Northern state title since 2001, opens its season Friday at 6 p.m. against Manogue in the Galena Tournament at South Valleys.
“In the tournament this weekend, we’re not going to try and win; we’re going to work on things,” Roser said. “If we win a few games, then it will be the fruit of our efforts.”
An interesting philosphy to be sure, but one which be should be easier for Northern 4A teams to demystify than the riddle, mystery and enigma that the Lady Senators are likely to bring to the pitch this season.