New season, new faces for soccer squads
Change is in the air this year at high school soccer fields in Nevada County. Whether it be a coaching change, which is the case at two of the three area high schools, or rosters plugged with new names – soccer fans have new experiences and new talent to look forward to watching.
Perhaps the program which will undergo the most change is that of the Bear River girls soccer program as first-year head coach Dave Barnes steps up to usher in a new era of Bruin soccer.
Barnes, who has coached for 16 years but not at the high school level, expects to see two very different versions of his team at the beginning of the season versus the team that he hopes to see in May.
“When I first came to the program, there seemed to be a little black cloud hanging above it – almost a tradition of losing or not being good enough,” Barnes said. “There isn’t a soccer trophy to be found at this school. I want the girls to know that we are a team and that somebody cares about them.”
Barnes makes it clear that the things he and his coaching staff do this year are not just about this year, that their ideas are going to be changing the soccer team into a true program the community can rally behind for years to come.
One of the first changes he is making, is to re-create the style of play of his team utilizes so that the emphasis of play is more on ball control.
“I am a ball control freak,” Barnes said. “I want to run a controlled system of ball movement, in which the girls know what to depend on and what to expect from their teammates.”
Up front at the forward position, Barnes expects to see junior Crystal Baily and sophomore Erin Noud do most of the heavy lifting scoring-wise for the Bruins. In the back, he is seeing good things already out of sweeper Tiarra Ivazes, a senior, and Danielle Barnes, a senior, and Jenn Nealy, a senior. All three of those defenders, in addition to Baily, have been named team captains.
“My defenders are very balanced, strong and tall,” Barnes said. “They are my most aggressive players who are physically fit and calm.”
Playing in the net this year will be a first-year starter, senior Morgan Stillman.
“We are going to start slow in creating much more structure this year, because the players have to have some game-time in them to get used to things,” Barnes said. “And really our goal is to be playing well enough the majority of the season to make it to the playoffs for the first time since 1994.”
The second area program to undergo a coaching change is Forest Lake Christian as co-coaches Alane Burke and Ken Raskin take the reigns.
After winning two consecutive Central Valley Christian League titles, the bar is set high for the new coaches, but both remain optimistic the program will continue to head in the right direction.
They realize, however, that challenges lie ahead of the team this year with four players already sustaining serious injuries – in addition to the fact that the roster will list only four seniors (two of which are part of the aforementioned injury group.)
“We feel we have a really strong team for only having four seniors,” Burke said.
Eight of the 20 players are freshman or sophomores with the junior class supplying eight members of the team.
The Falcons will rely on junior Jillian Witzke, sophomore Shelby Lowe and freshman Jessica Raskin for offensive firepower and scoring while the coaching staff expects to see good things out of juniors Rachel Kerber, Ashley Ferrara and Megann Stallings in the midfield.
Shoring up the Falcons defense will be freshman Jordan England at sweeper, senior Brittney Gilfillian, a captain, at stopper, along with fullbacks and seniors Andrea Lowe and Emily Boddorf.
“We are only going to be as good as our defense,” Raskin said. “We also want to see a strong midfield that controls the field so we can play possession ball.”
The Nevada Union program is the only area team with the same coach. However, the Miner roster will look vastly different this year as the team lost eight letterwinners to various situations.
Mike Voss, who returns for his seventh year, knows his team will be young, with nine of the 19 players listed as freshmen or sophomores.
Despite the youth of the team, the attack is fairly experienced with two juniors, Kacey Rogers and Erica Goode, leading the way at the forward position. Voss also expects to see sophomores Chelsea Ulinski and Mallory Meier attack the net and do some damage on the scoreboard.
Currently, the Miners have two players splitting time in the goal with freshman Jocelyn Rapp putting on the gloves for the first half. Junior Christi Giuliani then comes in during the second half to finish the game. Neither has played goalie at the high school level before this season.
With inexperienced players in the goal, Voss knows his defense must step up to the challenge. Senior Kaydee Russo and third-year starter Leigh Collins will anchor the Miner defense.
“Nevada Union has never made it to the section playoffs before – ever,” Voss said. “We hope to change that and finish within the top three teams in the Metro Conference.”
Bear River Soccer:
Coach: Dave Barnes (first year)
Playoffs: Did not qualify
Players lost: Katie Miller, Hannah Chellew and Rachel Pfarr
Key game: May 12th against Colfax
Coach’s comment: “We are going to start slow in creating much more structure this year, because the players have to have some game-time in them to get used to things,” Barnes said. “And really our goal is to be playing well enough the majority of the season to make it to the playoffs for the first time since 1994.”
Coach: Mike Voss (seventh year)
2004 record: 6-9-3
Playoffs: Did not qualify
Players lost: Seven seniors including Ali Parrott, Katie Stork
Returning starters: four, with 11 returning letterwinners
Important game: April 12th against Kennedy
Coach’s comment: “We are very, very young this year…we hope to finished within the top three teams in the Metro Conference.”
Coach: Alane Burke and Ken Raskin (First-year)
2004 record: 17-6, Central Valley Christian League Champions
Playoffs: First round 1-0 loss to Central Catholic (Modesto) in first
Players lost: Lauren and Jessie Clough, Kelly Ginney, Megan McQuerty, Aubrey Stelzner and Sam Van Winkle
Important game: March 24th against Country Day
Coach’s comment: “We are only going to be as good as our defense,” Raskin said. “We also want to see a strong midfield that controls the field so we can play possession ball.”
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Hank Sowell’s introduction to the game of golf came early as a set of clubs was among the gifts he received on his very first birthday.