Prep soccer preview: Seasoned players to guide squads
by Bob Brownne
Aug 29, 2013 | 2424 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Soccer team readies for season
Jaime Martinez (left) pursues Jacob Gonzalez as he drives toward the goal during a drill with the Tracy High soccer team Monday, Aug. 26.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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Boys soccer programs at Tracy, West and Kimball high schools bring back a handful of experienced players, who expect to guide the enthusiasm of new players for a successful season. Meanwhile, the programs at Millennium and Delta Charter come to the year with new coaches.

Young Bulldog team to be competitive

Tracy High has just a handful of experienced players on its varsity boys soccer team, but they’re looking forward to a successful 2013 season.

Senior Cameron Divoky, now in his fourth year as a varsity player, said the difference from past years is the team’s dedication and work ethic.

“This team works a lot harder than the rest,” he said.

Divoky is one of four seniors, including third-year varsity players Adolfo Inguanzo and Cristian Ramos.

Also back is senior forward Jacob Gonzalez, who said the Bulldogs could still take encouragement from last year’s season, when the Bulldogs went 5-7-2 overall and 3-6-1 in the San Joaquin Athletic Association for fifth place. Gonzalez said even the losses were close contests.

“We learned to never give up,” Gonzalez said. “Every time, every game, we just kept on fighting until the last minute. Hopefully, this year we do the same thing.”

The team also include seven juniors and six sophomores. Kalis said the young players are all expected to make an impact in the quest for a winning season.

“Sometimes your rebuilding years end up being competitive years, and sometimes the years when you have all seniors, you don’t meet expectations,” Kalis said.

“You can tell everybody here is excited to be here. They’re training really hard and taking direction well.”

Tracy opens its season at home on Wednesday, Sept. 4, against St. Mary’s of Stockton.

Wolf Pack rebuilding with an eye on TCAL title

West High soccer coach Nate Perry has grown accustomed to leading winning teams. In two of the past three years, the Wolf Pack has claimed the Tri-City Athletic League title on the way to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

This year, the Pack brings back only a few of the players from a 2012 team that went 10-3-3, 5-2-3 in the TCAL for second place behind McNair. West finished in the quarterfinals of the SJS Division I playoffs with a 2-1 loss to eventual division runner-up Granite Bay.

Perry said that even with mostly new players, West is a contender for the TCAL title and a repeat performance in playoffs.

“The next year or two we’ll be fighting for first place, where for quite a few years I expected first place,” Perry said.

Returning seniors include all-TCAL sweeper Javier Rios and forward Daniel Munoz and midfielder Victor Silva.

Rios, in his third year as a varsity player, said West still needs to establish its defensive strategy, but there was plenty about the team that looked good.

“Our set plays looked pretty good. Our corner and free kicks, they created possibilities,” he said.

“If we play with heart, not just play to play, if we all give it 100 percent and play for the team, we could do good things this year,” Rios said.

West opens its season Friday, Aug. 30, at Lodi.

Jaguars prepare for tough VOL season

Kimball High soccer coach Ron Hattley is getting his team ready for a tough year.

Even last year, with a core of experienced seniors, the Jaguars went 4-20-1, 2-11-1 in the Valley Oak League.

“The challenge is there, but it’s a really strong league. All of the teams are good and every team is competitive,” Hattley said.

“We felt like we had a decent team, but we didn’t have experience throughout the squad, and those little things just bite you at away games.”

The Jaguars are taking stock of where they’re strong. Kimball has two four-year varsity players in senior sweeper Brett Lassiter, the VOL’s 2012 co-most valuable player, and senior midfielder Alberto Flores. Junior forward Ryan Chaney also is back for his third year.

Lassiter expects the new players to be the key to improving the team.

“I think our team is better this year than last year,” he said. “We definitely have more players who weren’t here before who are pretty good.”

Flores said he’s more prepared than ever to face off against VOL rivals.

“The VOL is very physical, so I’ve learned to play physical,” he said. “My ball control has improved, my experience as a player has improved, and my leadership skills also.”

Kimball opens its season at the Pitman Tournament in Turlock on Friday, Aug. 30, and Saturday, Aug. 31.

New coach, approach for 2013 Falcons

Millennium High goes into the season with a young soccer team, but the leaders of the 2013 Falcons are confident that the team is ready for a successful year.

The big difference is Coach Dominic Figueroa, who led the Central Catholic High School girls for the past three years, including last year’s Western Athletic Conference championship team.

He also coached men’s and women’s soccer for the past four years at California State University, Stanislaus, where he graduated in 2007 after playing three years.

“I’m learning something new about the team every day,” he said. “I’m excited just to grow with them.”

The Falcons went 17-8-2 last year, 13-3-2 and second place in Central California Athletic Alliance, a year after winning the 2011 Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII championship.

Figueroa knows this is a much different team.

“I just want us to win our first game and move forward from there,” he said.

On Friday, Aug. 30, the Falcons face Venture Academy, last year’s CCAA champion, in Stockton.

Third-year varsity players include Ramiro Cortez, Daniel Gutierrez and Elham Chopan. Cortez said that Figueroa has the team focusing on fitness and conditioning.

“This year, we’re doing a well-rounded practice on everything,” Cortez said. “We have some new players, and they have a little bit more fight than last year.”

Dragons rebuilding for 2013

Delta Charter High starts its fourth year of boys soccer with a new coach and new players.

The only returning player so far from the 2012 team, which went 4-14 in the Mountain Valley League, is junior Mason Nunes — but new coach Scott Rafferty, a 2007 graduate of Delta Charter High School, intends to get the Dragon team up to full strength by the first game on Sept. 23 at Lutheran High in Elk Grove.

Seven players showed up for the first day of practice on Tuesday, Aug. 27, and Rafferty has more who just need to fill out paperwork before they can join the team.

“We had more than just this lot sign up,” Rafferty said. “I’d rather focus on getting back to school first.”

Rafferty played with Tracy United Competitive Soccer Club and has coached Tracy Youth Soccer League teams. He has also coached soccer in Utah and wanted to get involved at the high school level now that he’s back in San Joaquin County and attending San Joaquin Delta College.

He’s assessing the skills of each Dragon player.

“As long as they know how to work with technique, we can work on touches and see how hard they can head it or how low they can pass it,” he said.

• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or

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