Western Nevada soccer set for new season
Appeal Sports Editor
The Western Nevada College women’s soccer team has set a high standard on and off the field.
Last year’s team won the Scenic West Athletic Conference postseason title and advanced to the National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association Championships, losing in the first round. The team also finished fifth in the nation academically a year ago.
So despite having only three players returning from last year’s squad, Western Nevada coach Hillary Arthur still has lofty goals for her program and said there’s no reason why this year’s squad can’t improve on what has been done in the past – both on and off the field.
“You always have the goal of winning the league, advancing to the tournament,” said Arthur about the NJCAA event. “I’d like to see us advance further in the tournament, past the first round.”
And since most of the Wildcat players are also Milennium Scholars, Arthur has set a goal for her team to finish in the top three in the nation academically.
One constant has stayed the same. In the three years of the program, Arthur has been able to upgrade the talent each year and this season is no different.
“That’s what you’ve got to do to stay competitive,” Arthur said. “I’m very happy with the team we’ve put together. They’ve bonded really, really well.”
Arthur said inexperience won’t be an excuse for this year’s team. “They all compe from accomplished club programs and that makes a huge difference,” said Arthur about her players. “A lot of them are used to winning.”
And while the team only has three sophomores, they all played an integral role in last year’s success: Goalie Allie Otto of Carson High, defender Meghan Olsen of Douglas High and midfielder Virginia Loyola of South Tahoe. Here’s a look at the 17-member squad:
Allie Otto – “Last year she did real well for us in the net,” Arthur said. “We’re looking for her to come back strong. She’s a great leader on and off the field, well liked by the team.”
Ashley Winter – The freshman from Dayton will be one of the Wildcats’ forwards and may also see action at midfield. “Ashley has a really good touch on the ball,” Arthur said. “She’s very good with the ball at her feet.”
Kim Duke – She will be one of the mainstays on defense. “She’s definitely an anchor to the defense,” Arthur said. “She’s a solid player, very composed.”
Kalah Minter – One of the team captains and another mainstay on defense. “She’ll definitely be a key defender for us,” Arthur said.
Nikki Hackett – She will join Otto at goalkeeper. “Her agility in the net is one of her strong points of her game,” Arthur said. “Her size doesn’t matter because her vertical and her agility is so good.”
Jordan Forman – With her speed, the freshman from Reno will be on the left side up front and at midfield. “She’s fast,” Arthur said. “She’s fast her first step to the ball. She can hit a ball left or right footed.”
Devon Willington – She took time off from soccer to focus on academics at the University of Nevada, but has returned to the field for the Wildcats. Another speedy player who will be a rightside midfielder. “She’s very fast down the sideline,” Arthur said.
Sam Perry – The freshman from Douglas will be another defender. “She’s composed with the ball and she doesn’t panic,” Arthur said.
Virginia Loyola – Loyola was a sparkplug for the Wildcats last year, causing teams fits from the midfield and she’ll return to that role this year. She should also be one of the team’s leading scorers.
“We’re looking for leadership from her this year,” Arthur said. “She’s very good with the ball at her feet.”
Meghan Olsen – She will lead the defense. She returns to her sweeper spot and will be a captain for the second straight year. “She’s just solid,” Arthur said. “She rarely gets beat and if she does she can turn and chase them down.”
Jesse Chitwood – The freshman from Douglas will serve a similar role to Loyola. Her biggest role will likely to be to come off the bench and serve as a sparkplug up front. “She’s kind of an unpredictable player,” Arthur said. Arthur said Chitwood’s role will be to cause a turnover that leads to a goal.
Nicole Garn – Another captain and another key midfielder. “She’s got a strong foot,” Arthur said.
Alexia Balmaseda – Another speedy player, the forward is projected to be the team’s leading scorer. “We’re expecting a lot of goals out of her,” Arthur said. “She’s very, very quick, very deceptive.”
Rachel Van Roy – The freshman from Douglas will be a right side midfielder. “She’s definitely has the speed to go one-on-one and beat the defender,” Arthur said.
Marina Tharin – She will be the team’s stopper. “She definitely has a presence on the field,” Arthur said. “She’s a very strong, physical player and that’s what we need.”
Cassie Romeo – She will be another key defender. “She’s got a strong foot, accurate long ball, just smart,” Arthur said.
Yevette Guerrero – The goalkeeper/midfielder will redshirt this year. “She’s a great person to have out here,” Arthur said.
The Wildcats will open the season at 2 p.m. Saturday at American River Community College in Sacramento.