Kicking it into gear:
The Bear River soccer team is on a mission to take over the Pioneer Valley League.
It’s not the first time they’ve embarked on the journey ” led by coach David Molina who took a two-year hiatus to coach the junior varsity ” but it’s a year where the determination and talent appear to be aligned in the team’s favor.
“I think we’ve got the strongest team that we’ve fielded since I’ve been around,” Molina said. “We’ve got a deep team ” 19 players.”
Molina cites the good ball handling the team has shown in the preseason so far, the strong midfielders in Tyler Lamarche and Danny de le Veaga and a plethora of forwards that provide scoring options up front.
“With those two in the midfield,” Molina said, “good things are gonna happen.”
But the excitement is more pointed when it comes to the team’s two goalies, Michael Lohrke and Jon Boone, who are replacing last season’s Pioneer Valley League Most Valuable Player Ryan Bock. The two are splitting time equally and have the confidence of the coach to play at any moment.
Cavan Van Geem, Tony Taylor, Trevor Jensen, Danny Kistner, Alex Bolt and Adam Fagenstrom are all forwards he sees as legitimate threats for defenses in the PVL, too.
“We’re coming together,” he said. “The preseason has been a good experience. The Del Campo tournament pushed the kids to their limit. Our defense has gotten much better. All the pieces to the puzzle are there.
“I guess it really is up to the kids,” Molina continued. “I think they’ve got what it takes to have a successful season. I guess when league starts we’ll see what they’ve got.”
Bear River (3-2-2) starts the PVL season Sept. 24 against Placer. The Bruins were 5-3-4 in league last season, finishing fourth behind El Dorado (9-2-1), Placer (8-3-1) and Colfax (7-5-0).
Team: Bear River soccer
Coach (8th): Dave Molina (1st year)
Last year: 8-5-5 (fourth in the Pioneer Valley League)
Key losses: Ryan Bock (PVL most valuable player), David Sai-Ngarm, Justin Schuler
Returning letterwinners (5): David Beress, Joey Cox, Rane Gridley, Danny de le Veaga, Tyler Lamarche
Key Newcomers: Michael Lohrke, Jon Boone
Coach says: “They play beautiful soccer.”
The last time Nevada Union’s soccer team made the playoffs (2003), its new head coach was leading the way.
Ben Hajduk, in his new role, is looking to inspire the Miners after a 6-11-2 season last year to get back to prominence. His first step is changing the game plan.
“I didn’t really witness much of last year’s team,” said Hajduk, who graduated from Loyola Marymount in the spring. “From what I hear, we’re starting to play a completely different style of play. We’re trying to control the ball a lot more. I think if we can control the ball with our defense, and work it in and out of your midfield, then we can spread out the other team and that will open up our attack.”
He’ll depend on the play Shawn Lee and Christian Grapel l in the midfield to set the stage. Corey Mortara will be play “more of a sweeper” position to back them up, Hajduk said.
“He’s got the speed to recover from a lot of mistakes and then calm the play down,” he said.
“We still need a lot of work on finishing,” Hajduk continued. “We have some great players that can put the ball in the back of the net.”
Team: Nevada Union soccer
Coach: Ben Hajduk (1st season)
Last year: 6-11-2 (Sixth in the Sierra Foothill League)
Key losses: Nate Magill
Returning letterwinners (4): Sean Lee, Marc Hopkinson, Corey Mortara, Zach Peach,
Key Newcomers: Jair Cortez, Ceilidh Baxter, Nick Harris, Dominic Onak.
Coach says: “I get more nervous now as a coach than I do as a player. As a player, I always felt like I could affect the play. Whereas now I have to be more tactical and really rely on what’s been done in practice.”
Forest Lake Christian
Forest Lake Christian’s Thad Kopec may have to use some magic to produce the same sort of results the Falcons saw last year.
After coming off a fourth consecutive Central Valley Christian League title, the Falcons are younger and greener than years past with more “rookie” seniors on the team than ever before, Kopec said.
“I’m working them as hard as I can,” Kopec said of the youngsters. “We have a lot of guys who probably would be starting on the junior varsity team. They have to realize that varsity is much more intense, much more competitive. They have to work harder to bring their skill level to where I would have gradually brought them on.”
The team loses out on graduated forward Ben Sparling, who led the league in goals scored last season with 33. The team gains last year’s junior varsity leader, Randy Van Winkle, who had 30 goals.
Jeff Paulson and Travis Stokes return to the team as leaders with Aaron Anderson stepping in as the team’s goalie full-time after being called up early last season.
The Falcons will see league competition come from Sacramento Waldorf, which the team plays today in the league opener, Kopec said.
Team: Forest Lake Christian soccer
Coach (27th): Thad Kopec (27th year)
Last year (CVCL Champions): 14-6-5 (Section runner-up)
Key losses: Ben Sparling, Austin Maynard
Returning letterwinners (3): Jeff Paulsen, Travis Stokes, Jesse Allred
Key Newcomers: Randy Van Winkle, Aaron Anderson, Maxx Mamula, Zachary Ponoz, Michael McCowan
Coach says: “Just getting them to think different,” Kopec said of the keys to being successful. “Because a lot of them are basketball players or they played club soccer. This is a different story. We’re now going for a prize.”
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User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
New season. New co-head coaches. Same expectations.