After a tough 'rebuilding' season last year, Yosemite High School boys soccer coach Rick Lemberg is optimistic about his team that is anchored by a trio of senior players that have been on the varsity team since they were freshman -- Chris Grant (midfield), Alex Statkus (midfield/back) and Zack Voltmer (midfield/back).
"Our team is expecting to play well and we are expecting a good season," Lemberg said. "Chris, Alex and Zack will provide veteran leadership to the team."
Also returning from last year's team are seniors, Carson Burton (back), Ethan Griffen (back) and Dylan Taylor (forward). Returning Juniors are Alex Mello (forward), Tristan Webb (keeper) and Austin Bain (back).
Others who are expected to contribute to the success of the team are seniors Chandler Haas, who missed last year with an injury and Martin Kovacic, a foreign exchange student from Slovakia.
Lemberg expects plenty of playing time from newcomers to the team including juniors David Ibarra, Michael Neff, Tristan Rhoan, Jordan Rose, Victor Salazar and Craig Steiler.
Two sophomores, Oliver Curley and Tyler McIntyre, are expected to make significant contribution to the team.
"We have a tough preseason schedule including games with Madera High School, Roosevelt High School, Hoover High School, Fresno High School and Clovis High School,' said Lemberg. "Most of these schools have historically produced very strong soccer teams."
The Badgers will play in two tournaments this season. They play in the Sierra High School "Mountain Match-Up" Nov. 30 - Dec. 1. The following weekend the team travels to Lemoore to play in the "Jim Inglis Soccer Classic." Both tournaments will provide plenty of quality soccer and will provide the Badgers a good preseason test.
The team's fist home game will be Dec. 4 against Roosevelt at 6:30 p.m., proceeded by the JV game at 5 p.m. Chowchilla visits Yosemite on Jan. 8.
"The North Sequoia League should be very competitive this season," lemberg said. "Chowchilla and Kerman always have very solid soccer teams. These two teams have dominated the league the past few seasons. Liberty High School (Madera Ranchos) will have an excellent team as well. They were very competitive last year and their Junior Varsity was outstanding. They will be a tough beat."
Washington Union beat the Badgers twice last year, each victory was by one goal.
"Washington Union won the last game 4-3 and they did not have a senior on the team so they should be strong," said Lemberg.
The league is rounded out by Sierra High.
"Being our rival high school, Sierra always is a difficult win,' said Lemberg. "They will be very physical and bring a lot of energy to each game. There is no quit in them and they will provide a big challenge to us."
Lemberg said there are no easy teams on the schedule, but the Badgers are optimistic that they will put together a good season.
"Many of our players have worked hard in the off-season to improve their soccer skills and their conditioning,' said Lemberg. "Sixteen soccer players ran cross country this fall in order to get in better shape. This should provide huge benefits for us towards the end of games."
Lemberg will be assisted by 13-year volunteer coach Bill Stolp.
Second year coach Adam Kernaghan is the coach of the JV team.