Forest Lake Christian off and running
The 2012 Forest Lake Christian boys soccer team has a unique quality most teams don’t. The Falcons are young and experienced.
Forest Lake Christian returns eight players from the 2011 team that made the playoffs and took second in the Central Valley Christian League, including key starters Hunter Seman, Sean Kadera and Colin Moore.
“I expect to take league,” FLC head coach Steve Koch said. “That’s not pie in the sky for us. We really expect to. That’s not a shot at the other teams, but we really believe that, and I believe in our boys.”
Leading the Falcons’ offense this season will be their lone senior Moore along with juniors Kevin Hegarty and Seman, Koch said.
“(Seman) is a fantastic talent at soccer,” Koch said. “He’s a guy we can put in the middle and up top,.We will really be looking for some big things from him.”
Defensively they will rely on sophomore Kyle Soria, junior Sean Kadera and Daniel Cuneo.
“(Soria) is just an athlete,” Koch said. “There’s not a lot of soccer background with him, but you wouldn’t know it.
“He plays the game very smart. He has a neat demeanor about him. He doesn’t get rattled. There’s not a moment where he gets super flustered. He approaches the game as it should be.”
Cuneo, a first-time player, brings a certain level of strength and physicality to the squad, said Koch.
While many Falcons are back for another run at the playoffs, several key members from last season’s squad have moved on.
FLC graduated its starting goalie, Josh Hengel, leading scorer, Michael Spurling and longtime coach Thad Kopec retired.
“Those are some shoes to fill,” Koch said. “(Kopec’s) got like 350 plus wins. He was an amazing soccer icon here, and he knew the game better than anybody,”
Filling in for the loss of Hengel in the goal is first-time goalie Tyler Young, who has been receiving specialized coaching from former FLC goalie Joe Martin.
“He’s a big guy, and he’s coming along nicely,” Koch said of Young.
Koch has also enlisted his son and former Falcon soccer player Garrett Koch to help with the squad.
Forest Lake Christian has started the 2012 campaign with a very difficult nonleague schedule, facing six teams from higher divisions, which has made for a rocky start at 0-5-2.
The Falcons open CVCL play against Delta Sept. 25.
New look Miners eye second straight playoff berth
Nevada Union was 0-10-1 in the Sierra Foothill League in 2010 and finished last. In 2011, it rose to third in the SFL, garnering its second playoff berth in the program’s history. This year, the Miners are looking to make it two straight visits to the postseason.
“I don’t expect it to be easier than last year,” NU head coach Alex Butterfield said. “We had to work hard for our wins last year. This year will be the same.”
Leading the Miner offense this season will be Dominic Cressa, said Butterfield.
“He’s a really creative player,” he said. “He’s calm in possession and one of our most experienced players.”
Senior Luke Agness is coming off a strong 2011 campaign and will also be looked to often for scores, said Butterfield.
The Miners lost four of their starters from last season’s playoff team but retain their goalie, Zane Weinberger.
“He’s got his head in the right place this season,” said Butterfield. “He is working really hard to improve and has quite a bit.”
Butterfield said the Miners want to beat every team they face in the SFL but see Granite Bay as the barometer for his team.
“When it comes to division games, Granite Bay is regularly at the top,” Butterfield said. “It’s our aim to see how we matchup against them. This year we got a shot at beating them.”
The Miners have fared well in the preseason, starting 3-0. They open SFL play against Rocklin Sept. 20.
Bruins look to develop winning culture
Guy Tortorici has taken over the boys soccer program at Bear River after four years as the girls coach and hopes to reap similar results.
When Tortorici took over the girls varsity team, it had never made the playoffs. By his third season, it had taken second in the Pioneer Valley League and made its first ever appearance in the postseason.
In 2012, with the boys team, Tortorici said he is working on developing a young team.
“It’s defend as a team and attack as a team,” Tortorici said. “I’m just trying to build it to where they are playing together.”
The Bruins return top players Jacob Robinson and Blake Nielsen from last season’s squad.
Nielsen, a junior who is also the kicker on the varsity football team, said this year he is stepping up as a leader and looking for the team to improve as the season progresses.
“We have such a young team this year it’s really hard playing up to the physicality of other teams, so we’ve been working on that,” Nielsen said. “Win or lose I don’t care about that. I just hope we play good soccer”
Robinson, one of last season’s main scoring threats, seconds Nielsen’s approach to the 2012 season.
“We definitely want to win some games and progressively get better this year,” he said. “Last year we started off good and ended bad. This year I want to get better and better.”
The Bruins may have a budding star in the goal this season with John Roundtree tending the net. Tortocici said he is expecting big things from the young keeper.
Last season the Bruins finished 0-10 and last in the Pioneer Valley League. This season they hope to notch some wins and to cultivate a culture of winning, said Tortorici.
The Bruins get kicking against PVL foes Sept. 24 when they take on Center.
To contact Sports Writer Walter Ford call (530) 477-4232 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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As far as experts go, The Union’s “experts” have not exactly lived up to the billing so far this season.