New season: Sierra Pacific soccer preview

Hanford High's Damian Saldana and Sierra Pacific High's Salvador Sandoval battle for the ball in the first half of their match at Hanford High last season.

Sentinel file photo

Last season, the Sierra Pacific Division 6 boys team went 1-14-1 overall and finished last in the East Sequoia League with a 0-8-1 record. In 16 games, the team scored 12 goals with forward Marco Sanchez having a season-high five goals. Captain Carson Timmerman had four goals on the season.

Their only win came against Yosemite — a Division 4 opponent — in their season opener. It was a 4-0 victory at home with Sanchez scoring a hat trick.

It was one of the few bright spots as they would go on to lose their next nine games before getting a 2-2 draw against Woodlake. They finished the season by losing their last five games and were shut out eight times overall.

Things should get better after last year’s young team gained some experience. Of the 19 players on the roster, only five were seniors and three were juniors. The other 11 were composed of 10 sophomores and one freshman.

This season the team has nine juniors and two seniors on the team, so expect much more leadership and skill on the field. Yes, there are still eight sophomores on the team, but they should be able to learn from the upperclassmen and follow their lead.

“When I took this program over I knew I had to build something so I was trying to be patient with the kids,” Sierra Pacific coach Steve Soares said. “Hard work will get the results and hopefully they’re starting to see that now.”

Soares is in his third year at Sierra Pacific so the leading juniors have been with him since his freshman year. He said he’s expecting a lot from his junior class this year especially since he has a full varsity roster for the first time in his tenure with Sierra Pacific.

Last season, during league, he had 12-13 players on his roster at one point, which would make it a struggle for any team to be competitive.

The Golden Bears got off to an excellent start on Tuesday when they defeated Hanford 2-1 in their home and season opener. The win against Hanford was a first in school history for Sierra Pacific.

Sanchez, a senior, scored the first goal in the 52nd minute and sophomore Aziel Torres netted the eventual game-winner in the 70th minute.

“I’m hoping he builds on his five goals last year,” Soares said. “I’d like to see him in double-digit goals. He’s a great hard worker.”

With this being the third year, Soares has one goal in mind.

“We have to make the playoffs,” Soares said. “Our goal this year is to do well in the preseason, do well in league, make the playoffs and then just take it game by game from there on.”

It’s not an easy task because in the ESL they’ll have to face Division 4 schools Lindsay and Woodlake and Division 5 schools Granite Hills and Corcoran.

Soares will be leaning on his defense heavily and hope it leads to open offense. Sanchez will also be a bigger threat now that the Golden Bears have two other scoring threats including Torres.

Sierra Pacific has their next test against Yosemite (2-0) next Tuesday at home at 3:15 p.m.

Noe Garcia can be reached at (559) 583-2431 or Follow Noe on Twitter at @noecarlosgarcia.

Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for The Sentinel

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