Panther Soccer 2013
by Coach Steve Sparks, August 27, 2013
This report refers to soccer, although to some readers the sport in question is football, or perhaps futbol. Whichever term you prefer, I hope you will enjoy the weekly reports on the 2013 high school team as they once again strive to continue the tradition of excellence built as a result of many years of success.
The 2013 AV High School Boys’ soccer season gets underway today, Wednesday, August 28, when Rincon Valley Christian visits the Valley for a 4.30pm kick-off at Tom Smith Field alongside the high school. It will hopefully be the first win of many as the Panthers look to improve on their regular season performance of last year when they fell to 4th place in the league after eight years of top three finishes and play-off qualification that included three regular season titles. Following two of those titles, in 2010 and last year, their progress in the play-offs saw the teams go on to win the postseason Championships and that will be the goal once again.
The season the team plays 17 league matches plus five non-league games that will also count in the overall team record that affects postseason seedings. As usual the main rivals for league supremacy will be Roseland Prep from Santa Rosa, Calistoga, and St. Vincent from Petaluma, although no games are forgone conclusions anymore as the overall standard of play has greatly improved in recent years.
Three very influential Panthers graduated from last year’s team and will be tough to replace — Christian Mendoza, Justin Soto, and Carlos Espinosa. But, having said that, the squad is perhaps the deepest it has ever been with a total of 24 players who will provide many options for yours truly, the coach.
This squad has six players from each of the four grades, and despite losing Jose de Jesus Lievanos to a broken foot for the opening few games, four of the other seniors played in virtually every game last year and will provide both ability and strong leadership. Two of them, Jose Gaxiola and Omar Solano, have played on the team since freshmen, and the other two, Erik Martinez and Danny Espinoza, will be major factors in any success the team is to have. Lalo Avalos is the final senior in the squad and he will provide many useful minutes off the bench.
The Junior classmen include two defensive stalwarts from last season — Efrain Gonzales and Gualberto Gastelum, while other sophomores are Romario Espinoza, Christian Tapia, plus two who both missed last season for different reasons but who will get significant playing time this time round — Fabian Sanchez and Moises Segura. The sophomores include two players who started every match as freshmen last year — Fernando Ferreyra and Abraham Sanchez, and they are joined from their class by Jorge Tovar, Francisco Espinoza, Isaac Parra, and Chuy Valdivia.
Following their very successful season with the Junior High team, six freshmen make the squad — a very encouraging sign of things to come, and three of these are likely to be in the starting line-up or very close to it — Christian Guerrero, Ysidro Tovar, and Gerardo Torrales. They are joined by fellow ninth-graders David Eligio, Dario Gonzales, and Isaac Sanchez.
Joining me, as assistant coaches, will be Eddie Ferreyra (AV class of 2003), one of the most talented players to ever represent the school, Nikola Milojevich, who has served in that role for three seasons now, and high school student and former team captain, Chuy Sanchez, whose eligibility has expired and who will no doubt be a very helpful in his role as team manager.
As well as a demanding league program, Athletic Director Robert Pinoli has once again managed to get us some difficult non-league matches and the team will have to perform to its full potential to challenge for honors this year. However, I fully expect our efforts to be rewarded with yet another solid season and a winning record, and hopefully an appearance in the play-offs for the ninth year in a row.
Following today’s (Wednesday’s) first home game, which is also the opener in league play, on Friday afternoon (Aug 30), kicking-off as always at 4.30pm, the boys will face Kelseyville in a non-league match-up. This game will be followed by another home league match next Wednesday, Sept 4, against Sonoma Academy. As always your support at our matches is much appreciated. We play exciting football and, as I’ve often said, a good home crowd is probably worth a goal a game! Hope to see you there. Come on you Panthers!
Schedule for the first four weeks:
Date Opponent Venue / Time
1.Wed 8/28 Lg Rincon Valley Home / 4.30
2.Fri 8/30 N Kelseyville Home / 4.30
3.Wed 9/4 Lg Sonoma Academy Home / 4.30
4.Fri 9/6 Lg Potter Valley Away / 4.30
5.Mon 9/9 N Cloverdale Home / 4.30
6.Wed 9/11 Lg Geyserville Away / 4.30
7.*Fri 9/13 Lg Tech H.S. Home / 5.00
8.Wed 9/18 Lg Roseland Prep Home / 4.30
9.Fri 9/20 Lg St Vincent’s Home / 4.30
(Lg: League Match. N: Non-League match. *County Fair)