After finishing last year with a 16-5-1 record and a second place finish in the North Sequoia League, Yosemite High’s girls soccer team is looking for an even stronger performance this season with a young squad full of energy.
Only one senior, Riley Ashton, will take to the field this year, assuming the role as a captain and center offensive midfielder.
“Riley brings an intensity that sets her team on fire,” Head Coach Vanessa Jasper said. “She is feisty, hard working, and at the center of the offense.”
Last year’s top scorer Peyton Garner, a junior who notched 32 of the team’s 69 goals, is working to beat that total for a school season scoring record this year.
Jasper said to have a great offense, however, a team also needs a solid defense.
Sarah Meeks, a junior center left defender, will look to anchor the defense after she spent much of last season with a neck and back injury as well as a concussion, Jasper said.
“If she stays healthy this year she will be a big asset to the team,” Jasper said.
Jasper said overall, her squad, with goalkeeper and junior Charlotte Borough, will work hard to win a league title.
“We scored 69 goals last year and gave up 24,” Jasper said. “These are exciting and improving numbers from previous seasons.”
For the JV team, coached by Jennifer Stanley, a number of talented freshman will join the ranks of a group that won the NSL JV title last year.
The Badgers lost on the road Nov. 28 to Hoover 3-0 to begin the season. The team was home against Mariposa on Tuesday. The score was not available at press time.
On Friday the team travels to Hoover for the Roosevelt Tournament for a 11:30 a.m. game, with a second game against Washington Union at 2 p.m. and a game against Roosevelt on Saturday.
On Monday (Dec. 5), the team will travel to Minarets High and take on their friendly rivals, with many players on both teams having grown up together Jasper said. The JV teams play at 4:30 p.m. with the varsity game at 6.
Boys open with win
It’s a new day for the Yosemite boys soccer team - with 13 seniors lost to gradation, this season’s team has a lot of fresh faces, fresh perspective and fresh excitement as the season began with a 7-2 victory over Mariposa at home Nov. 28.
About 40 players have turned out for both the varsity and JV teams, Head Coach Rick Lemberg said, with 18 playing varsity and the rest on JV.
Returning this year as seniors are Juan Solis, Dalin Haas, Badger football place kicker Joe Campbell, Jacob Rounsivill, Brennan Ryan, and Aaron Arroyo.
Additional returning varsity players include Russell Zelazo, Jack Rice and Jacob Pitkanen.
Lemberg said though many of the players are new given the smaller number of seniors and returning varsity players, the team has plenty of talent.
“Our players are not real big, but they have plenty of talent,” Lemberg said of the young team. “It will be quite a thrill to watch all these players grow and develop over the next three to four years.”
Lemberg said though it’s an uphill battle against talented North Sequoia League teams like Sierra and Liberty, his team plans to best last year’s league record of 0-10.
“We are switching our strategy around a little this year,” Lemberg said. “We will be playing with a 3-5-2 formation. This allows for lots of variations and changes. It is also one that makes it easier to control the center part of the field. Some of the transitions have been hard to learn, but our young guys are picking it up really quickly.”
Lemberg and JV coach Victor Salazar will be joined by coaches Vanessa Mello, Bill Stolp, Adam Kernaghan, and Marcus Leyva, providing even more experience and knowledge to the team.
“Many members of this team have been practicing since March and are ready to go,” Lemberg said. “It will be a fun season and I’m sure there will be great highs and some lows. But these young men will be playing a good brand of soccer and they will be fun and exciting to watch.”
The YHS boys team has three home games on the schedule - Caruthers (JV 4 p.m. - varsity 5:30) today (Dec. 1), Fresno High on Dec. 6 and Dos Palos on Dec. 9.