CHS boys soccer looks to continue success
Appeal Sports Writer
Having lost 10 seniors from last season’s squad that went 18-2 and won the Sierra League championship, coach Jason Koop and his Carson High School boys soccer team is facing the kind of attrition rate that can devastate many programs.
But while he acknowledged his team’s inexperience following practice last week, he didn’t sound like a man who was ready to walk the plank.
“We’re going to be very young, with only five seniors,” said Koop, whose Senators went 13-1 in league, beat Reno twice and split their regular-season games with perennial power South Tahoe before losing, 3-0, to the Vikings in the Northern 4A regional championship game. “Chronologically – age-wise we’re young – but experience-wise we’ve got guys that have played at a high level.
“If we can overcome our immaturity, our biggest hurdle – and I think we can – I think skill-wise from top to bottom, we’re closer than we’ve been in previous years.”
The result of having a relatively young squad will most likely boil down to a diametrically opposite style of play compared to what amounted to a High Desert Storm last year.
Departed seniors Micah Laack (21 goals, 11 assists), Zach Weismann (16 goals, 10 assists), electric midfielder Enrique “Cheeks” Mendoza (14 goals, 14 assists) and Christian Volker (10 goals) were the core of a Senators group that scored 79 goals last season – nearly twice as many as its previous two combined.
Rather than try and bury other teams under a blizzard of shots, the Senators may try and play the role of a boa constrictor, tying up its opponents with its defense while it looks for opportune moments to strike.
“Right now, from what I’ve seen, defensively we’re solid all the way around,” said Koop, in his fourth season as CHS boys head coach. “We’ll see if we can come up with some offense. Our philosophy is if we don’t give up goals, we’ll be in all of our matches.”
Koop had yet to decide on a starting goalkeeper, choosing instead to let returning starter Brandon Briggs and fellow junior Ryan Lee compete for the job.
“Briggs has the most varsity experience – he was on (varsity) as a freshman and started as a sophomore last year,” Koop said. “Ryan should be testing him. Last year we didn’t have a competitive situation for Brandon. We’ll make both kids work for their time. Ryan stepped up big in our first match with Douglas. We know they’re both capable. It’s a nice position to be in.”
CHS had a 0.90 goals against average last year, compared to its average of 3.95 goals per game.
Although the Senators will miss first-team defender Mats Boehnke, seniors Drew Heller and Matt Tillitt, juniors Derek Sanchez and Carlos Contreras, and sophomores Brian Duran and Jorge Guevera will try and fill the void.
Filling in the upper line of defense – as well as opening up the offense – will be midfielders such as senior Drew Good and junior “Little John” Nuthall.
“Drew is a senior, so we’re looking for some leadership out of him,” Koop said. “He’ll start as an outside midfielder and is naturally a left-footer, so like with Enrique (Sanchez) last year, we’ll put him on the right side to cut back. He’s fast, quick, has good ball skills and was a starter all last year.”
Koop said Briggs, junior midfielder Brady Roser and Nuthall all played for a Sacramento club team.
“We’re moving ‘Little John’ from defender (where he was a second-team selection) to the center midfielder spot. With the vision they (Good, Nuthall and Rose) have, they should be able to create some opportunities for us.”
Senior Chris Brown, junior Adam Updegrove, an Olympic Development Program player, and sophomores Uriel Duran and Moises Romo round out the midfielders, while senior Martin Azzam, juniors Nik Marsh and Blake Moreland, another ODP player, and sophomore Israel Lopez will try and manufacture some scoring from their positions at forward.
“I wasn’t sure what we’d have when I got here after losing so (many players),” Koop said. “After the first week of practice, we’re pleasantly surprised. It’s a high-spirited bunch. They’re eager and eager to prove we can do it.”
Just ask Good and Nuthall.
“It’s gonna be fun,” the 17-year-old Good said. “The seniors have to step up. We have a good supporting cast with nine juniors that are really good. We have a bright group of sophomores. We have a lot of talented kids.”
“I think we can get close again,” said Nuthall, 16. “It all depends on our young kids. And I hope the upperclassmen step up. We need to use our seniority to help out and get us another winning season.”
He may have a relatively young squad, but Koop said he expects it to compete with South Tahoe (which finished as a state semifinalist), Reno (which is returning a lot of players) and Douglas (which lost talented Michael Gransbery and his 50 career varsity goals, including 29 in 2006).
When asked what his team’s motto is this season, Good smiled and said, “State ’08.”
Told that the Carson football team’s motto is similar – “S-08,” Good was quick to respond.
“Tell them we’ll send them a postcard from state,” he said with a smile.
Go ahead and add a little swagger to this already young and eager squad, which opens its season beginning at 4 p.m. Friday against Spanish Springs at South Valleys in the Galena Tournament.