On the schedule, the Douglas High boys soccer team is opening its season Wednesday afternoon at home against Spanish Springs.
Yet, the home field advantage won’t be quite what Douglas coach Vince Brown hoped it would be. Problem is, the Tigers haven’t been out on their own field with a soccer ball since Aug. 21 due to smoke from the Rim fire raging near Yosemite — and the status of even playing the game could still be up in the air.
But first things first.
“It will be interesting to see how the boys react on Wednesday when we really haven’t been on a full-sized field for a while,” Brown said. “We will potentially be playing our first game without being on a full-sized field for three weeks.
“They’re fit, they’re willing to go, but we need to be working on the formation we’re going to play, and that’s one of the issues we’ve got,” he added in reference to the smoke conditions. “Then again, the boys have reacted well. They’re just as frustrated as me about this, but there’s nothing we can do about it, and every school is in the same boat.”
Any advantage would be welcome against a tradition-rich Spanish Springs program coached by Rob Moreland, a veteran of more than 20 seasons in Northern Nevada soccer. The Cougars advanced to the Division I Northern Regional Tournament championship game last year before losing to Carson on penalty kicks.
The Tigers are looking forward to that challenge, and looking forward to the season overall.
“As a whole, I’m pretty confident,” Brown said. “I think we moved forward a lot last year and I think this year we’ll move forward a lot more.”
One reason for that confidence is a high level of experience provided by 11 seniors.
“There are six or seven seniors now this is their third year of varsity and they’re looking good,” Brown said.
One welcome addition is center midfielder Emanuel Montoya, who returns after not playing soccer last fall.
Montoya now combines with fellow senior Emilio Magana to give the Tigers solid playmakers in their 4-4-2 formation.
“Eman will be a pivotal part,” Brown said. “And with Emilio, those will be two main characters in our performance.”
Senior Tristan Cohee has moved from the midfield to forward, where he will join Edgar Hernandez. Freshman Juan “Flavi” Lopez is also expected to contribute, according to Brown.
“I think we will have a good offense with Edgar and Tristan,” the coach said. “Flavi, I think, will be a little surprise for us, too.”
Sophomores Pedro Vega and Colin Brooks both return to provide added experience in the midfield.
Douglas also expects to be improved defensively led by seniors Dane Olsen and Jacobi Smith, sophomores Koby Hinnant and Chris McKimmey. Freshman Zachary Kruse is also expected to help bolster the defensive line.
“The defense looks stronger,” Brown said. “As a back five, with the goalkeeper, we look pretty good.”
Youth is also prevalent at goalkeeper, however, Brown is confident the position is in the capable hands of freshman Luke Heinrichs.
“He’s a 6-foot freshman, so he’s a big guy, and he has impressed us,” the coach said.
So, what are the team goals for the coming season?
“Obviously, I feel playoffs is the main objective,” Brown said. “We haven’t been there in a couple of years now.”
The path to the playoffs will have to be reached a step at a time, if the Tigers are to be successful. “I don’t want to say we need to win so many games,” Brown said. “We need to take every game as it comes. Our first game is Spanish Springs and we want to win it. The way, I feel, to qualify for the playoffs is you have to win your home games. When you play at home you have to win or at least take points.”