They’ll all be dealing with loss as the new year starts. But the city girls’ soccer teams should be able to plug in some new wheels on the machines that produced two playoff teams in 2010.
The EHS girls enjoyed a banner year with 22 wins last season, the most in program history, but will compete without a number of stars from that crew including Alyssa Perez, Andrea Maldonado, Ana Lopez, and Andrea Solis. In addition, star forward Beckah Rodriguez will not play her senior year, after she chose to stick with cross country to try for a college scholarship.
So Coach Martin Gonzalez has some work to do, but luckily he’s got a lot of quality kids on hand to experiment with in the early going. The linchpin of the deal may be returning starter Bri Sanchez, who moves up from defense to take a shot at offensive midfielder. If the sturdy-legged senior can acquit herself as well as she has on defense for two seasons, the attack should be solid.
The most prominent new face in camp belongs to a Mexican, Diana Cobarruvias, a highly skilled youngster with superior leg strength and an awesome handle; Gonzalez is quietly optimistic that the freshman will be able to take the league by storm.
“She is really good, you can tell the first minute she steps on the field,” said the coach. “That’s good, but now she has to figure out how to play at this level. I don’t think it will be much of a problem for Diana.”
Joining the promising newcomer up front will be rangy Amy Avila, who should be ready for a breakout season. Lianna Jimenez and Vanessa Hinojosa are seasoned kids who will be heard from this year as well.
In back, look for Bianna Detwiler and Barb Paez, two tall defenders, to carry the load, while the team auditions a couple of new goalkeepers. Veteran Sam Almanza is back on defense along with a slim freshman, Leslie Alvarez, who seems to have an instinct for denial.
The Lady ‘Cats also have a series of kids who got extensive playing time in 2010, including Karen Alvarado and Rachel Hernandez, each of whom brings a solid upside to the pitch.
Gonzalez is working on finding the right combinations in the early going, but he thinks that in time, EHS should be able to contend for the league title. The Lady ‘Cats appear to be the strongest city team so far.
At North, Coach Danny Valdez is also trying to replace some graduated stars, namely Andrea “Red” Gonzalez and Destiny Rodriguez. The Lady Coogs can count on speedy scoring threat Viri Torres and a solid returning cast on defense. Aleena Cubriel, Viri Hernandez, and Aleyna Perez are experienced defenders and goalie Michelle Villarreal is a returning starter, giving North an edge in back.
Beyond that, the picture is a bit more cloudy, as Valdez is searching for midfielders to get the action started, and for another forward to complement the vet Torres. Expect Mariana Watson and Jamie Torres, second-liners a year ago, to step into key roles this season. Torres has gained strength heading into the season and might be a surprise star as a senior.
Sophomores Reina Morales and Dulce Balderas should be, like Watson and Jamie Torres, important contributors as the Lady Coogs seek to keep their winning ways going.
“We’ve got some girls up front, and our defense returns intact,” Valdez said. “Now we just need to find some people to play in the midfield.”
The unit received a blow when Kim Rodriguez, a promising prospect, blew out an ACL and was lost for the season.
Meanwhile the Lady Jags of Econ will enter the new season minus a couple of all-time greats in Dulce Torres and Idalia Ortiz, and will rebuild under the patient guidance of coach Robert Garcia.
Econ, which competed for a playoff spot last year but came up short, has Savannah Castillo leading the way as a sophomore, with tough defender Nicole Wilke and forward Dulce Loera also vital cogs in the Orange machine.
Though graduation robbed the program of eight frontline players, there are a number of new faces in camp expecting to keep the program’s surge toward contention going in 2011. In a district that seems to be a bit down talent-wise, perhaps this is the year that Econ can push through.