No big surprise here! The Carson and Douglas High girls soccer teams will once again the teams to beat in the Sierra League. And along with Reed, include them in the running for the Northern 4A this season, as well.
The Northern 4A girls soccer season kicks off today, with the three Carson Country teams set to play 3:30 p.m. games. Carson hosts Sparks, while Douglas entertains Elko and Galena travels to South Tahoe.
Both the Carson Senators and Douglas Tigers return most of their key players from teams that went deep into the postseason in 2000. Carson won the Sierra League regular season championship, then was upset by the Reed Raiders in the Northern 4A semfinals. Douglas started out 4-3 but increasingly got better as the season progressed and went 11-0-1 down the stretch, capped off by its first-ever championship in the Northern 4A Regional Tournament. The Tigers had previously lost in the conference tournament finals in 1994 and in '96.
Nevada has no state girls soccer championship, since the sport is played in the fall up North while Las Vegas schools play in the winter.
Both Carson and Douglas return their top scorers. The Senators' Ali Banister (14 goals, 8 assists) and Erin Stieber (13 goals, 11 assists) are back, as are the Tigers' Amber Gwinn (13 goals, 15 assists) and Kali Schmidt, who scored both goals in the team's 2-0 win over Reed in last year's zone championship.
Gone are Douglas goalie Ashley Sulprizio, who allowed only 10 goals last season and posted three straight shutouts during the regional tournament. The 6-foot-1 goalie moved on to play at the University of Nebraska, which started the 2001 college season ranked No. 5 in the nation.
"You don't replace someone like Ashley Sulprizio," Douglas coach Fred Schmidt said. "She's the best goalie to come out of the Nevada in the past decade."
Mallory Moore, who played a few games when Sulprizio was out last season, will try to fill the position.
Last year's record: 15-2-1, Sierra League regular season champions, Northern 4A semifinalists, three-time zone finalist from 97, 98, 99. Won the zone title in '98.
Players lost: 6
Top returning players: Krissy Rose, Goalie, Ali Banister, F, Erika Landis, F, Jessica Bray, MF, Erin Stieber, MF, Allison Kop, D, Sarah Field, D.
Key players lost: Allison Williamson, Bria Dankworth, Sarah Carmona
Stieber-13 goals, 11 assists last year
Banister-14 goals, eight assists
Last year's record: 15-3-1, Northern 4A Champions (2-0 win over Reed)
Players lost: 3
Top returning players: Kali Schmidt, MF, Amber Gwinn, F, Kristi Gearty, D, Jessica Girdner, D, Andrea Chaney, F, Tracey Hawks, MF.
Key players lost: Ashley Sulprizio, G, Kelsey Newell, D
Gwinn-13 goals, 15 assists
Schmidt-9 goals, 9 assists, scored both goals in Tigers 2-0 win over Reed in zone championship
Last year's record: 14-3-1, High Desert League champions, Northern 4A semifinalists. Won Northern 4A championship in 1999.
Key losses: Annie Baxter, F, Amy Jackson, F, Jayleen Chen, G, Patricia Garrick, MF
Baxter-13 goals, 8 assists
Garrick-5 goals, 1 assist
Jackson-14 goals, 8 assists