Miners will be faced with challenge
Fourth-year Nevada Union girls soccer coach Mike Voss likes to refer to his teams as family.
Papa Voss, who sent seven ‘daughters’ out of the nest due to graduation from last year’s team that narrowly missed the playoffs, will have a challenge on his hands this year.
Voss is in the process of encouraging his younger players to run, not walk, if they are to compete in the always competitive Capital Athletic League.
Friday, host Del Campo, behind two goals and an assist from Nikki Anderson, defeated NU 4-1. The Lady Miners’ lone goal came in the final minute from Meredith Ely, who beat the Cougars’ netminder to a direct kick from teammate Chrystal Conklin for a goal.
The goal, in which Ely won the ball, underlined a point that Voss had been trying to make to his relatively inexperienced squad throughout the day.
“I told the team we had four players who are not coming off the field unless they crawl off the field, because they play that hard,” Voss said. “The rest of my family is not playing as hard as they can play.”
Last year, the Lady Miners went 12-6-1 overall, and their nine CAL victories easily outdistanced the combined number of league victories the team had put together in Voss’ first two years at the helm. Their playoff bid came down to the final game of the regular season with Bella Vista.
Among the key graduates from that NU team were Ashley Hajduk and Katie Zealear, whose sister Lauren has opted not to play her senior year with the soccer team to concentrate on track and field as well as club soccer, including her inclusion on an Olympic Development national team.
Voss said Lauren’s decision is understandable, considering the big picture. But there is no denying that her absence creates a huge void that somehow must be filled.
“Right now, we don’t have a bona fide center halfback, which her sister Katie, she and Ashley Hajduk played last year,” Voss said. “Meredith (Ely) can do it, but right now she is helping us with defense because we lost a lot of players on that side of the field as well.”
Voss is still mixing and matching player combinations on the field at a time when usually positions are pretty well set.
This year’s soccer family features six seniors, three freshman, three sophomores and five juniors. The team features and equal mix of experienced players, such as Mackenzie Murphy, Ashley Woodford, Katie Farlee, Celeste Martini and Jamie Pau, with players who are trying to fill the gaps left by graduation.
NU’s goal Friday was scored by a sophomore (Ely), assisted by a freshman (Chrystal Conklin).
“Our group of freshman and sophomores are awesome,” Voss said. “We have gone out looking – not that we want to adopt more daughters – but there are (middle school) girls that can play soccer. The goal is to get four or five of them each year good enough to play on the varsity. That will make my job, no job – just directing traffic.”
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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.