Soccer Outlook: Fresh faces with eyes on the goal |

Soccer Outlook: Fresh faces with eyes on the goal

After a tough nonleague schedule, numerous injuries and entering play with 11 freshmen and sophomores on a 17-player varsity team, one might think the Forest Lake Christian’s Falcons are in for an ugly season.

No way, said veteran FLC coach Thad Kopec.

“We have a good chance of winning league,” Kopec said.

While 11 team members are freshmen and sophomore, five are seniors, Kopec said.

“Our seniors are real true leaders,” Kopec said. “The freshmen and sophomores are watching them closely and that’s a good thing.”

Seniors Brandon Kaminski and Andrew Hummel are two leaders to whom Kopec was referring. Both are trying to recover from injuries.

Other standouts include: Randy Van Winkle, Michael Sparling, Andrew Baker and Garret Koch.

The Falcons lost Aaron Andersson, Jesse Allred and Zach Ponce to graduation.

Going into the season Kopec said he expected at least four other students to join the team, but they decided not to come out for varying reasons.

Because of injuries and the high number of freshmen and sophomores, the Falcons are starting more freshmen than they are used to, Kopec said. Three freshmen started in a recent game, he said.

“I’ve had freshman starting before, Kopec said. But he added, “maybe one at a time.”

The entire team will need to be ready for Central Valley Christian League foe Cristo Rey. Kopec said he anticipates Cristo Rey, new to the league, will be the Falcons’ toughest foe.

Forest Lake plays Cristo Rey three times this season and all the matchups will be at home because the Sacramento-based school does not have a home field.

Despite having a younger team that has never played together before, Bear River boys soccer coach Sukum Sai-Ngarm expects his team to be competitive in Pioneer Valley League play.

“I think we have some good players,” said Sai-Ngarm. “There were more seniors last year, but they’re excited and that’s part of the fun. They’re excited to play.”

The new players coming up hopefully make a difference for the team, Sai-Ngarm said.

“At a minimum,” he said, “we’re building for the future.”

Jory Gemignani, Riley Raab, and Jonathan Robinson are key returning athletes, Sai-Ngarm said.

The team lost goalkeepers Jonathan Boone and Michael Lohrke to graduation.

“We’ll be learning in goal,” Sai-Ngarm said. “Those two keepers were veterans.”

New Nevada Union boys’ soccer coach Alex Butterfield wants his Miners’ opponents to leave the field with a different opinion of the team.

It’s a team headed to the playoffs. At least that’s the goal that Butterfield has set and he wants Miners’ opponents to experience.

Butterfield wants opponents to witness his team’s improved play firsthand after the Miners failed to reach the playoffs in recent years.

“I’m very excited for this season,” Butterfield said.

Three of the teams in the Sierra Foothill League will advance to the playoffs.

While it’s his first year as the varsity coach, he has been the team’s junior varsity coach and coached club soccer in recent years. So he’s not exactly unfamiliar with the NU players.

The team is off to an “excellent” start in the nonleague play with wins over North Tahoe, Forest Lake and Bear River, Butterfield said.

Matchups against Granite Bay should be a key gauge to how where Nevada Union stands, Butterfield said.

“They are a great team,” he said.

NU’s key returning athletes include Ceilidh Baxter and Nick Harris. Butterfield also is expecting a lot from Sean Anderson, a freshman captain who has shown “he is more than capable of stepping straight up to the varsity level.”

Christian Grapel and Corey Mortara graduated from last year’s team.

Contact Sports Writer Greg Moberly via e-mail at or by phone at 477-4234.

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