Veterans lead Douglas boys soccer |

Veterans lead Douglas boys soccer

It’s been some time since the Douglas High boys soccer team made its last postseason appearance with a runner-up finish at the 2009 Northern 4A Region Tournament.

With 11 varsity returnees on the roster, five of whom are third- or fourth-year veterans, the Tigers have good reason to be optimistic about their prospects this fall. Coach Milko Vasquez is well aware that they still face a formidable challenge to earn a playoff berth in the talent-laden Sierra League.

“Our league is extremely hard,” Vasquez said. “Wooster and Galena are always great, and I expect Carson, Damonte Ranch and Manogue to be vastly improved. The difference from top to bottom is not going to be that much.”

Douglas (7-11-3 in 2014) missed the playoffs, however, the Tigers finished on an upbeat note with one win and two ties their final three contests. The 4-1 win at home came at the hands of playoff-bound Damonte Ranch and then the Tigers ended their season with a 3-3 tie against arch rival Carson, a team that eventually reached the Northern Division I Region Tournament semifinals.

Seniors Pedro Vega and Koby Hinnant are both fourth-year varsity veterans who received all-league recognition in 2014. Vega was a second-team midfielder during a season in which he had six goals and seven assists. Hinnant brings speed and versatility to the field, having earned honorable mention all-league recognition as a defender last year, although ended the season with a three-goal performance against Carson.

“We have a lot of speed on top with good skills,” said Vasquez, whose squad opened its season Thursday with a non-league match against North Tahoe. “And the depth we have is definitely going to be an asset.”

Three juniors are also back for their third varsity season — forward Flavi Lopez, midfielder Zach Kruse and goalkeeper Luke Heinrichs.

Hinnant has been shifted to forward, where he is expected to combine with Lopez and senior Chris Gold and junior Josh Gurule.

Sophomore Javier Vega also returns in the midfield, while freshman Brian “Yovani” Cervantez is bidding to crack the starting lineup.

Chris McKimmey, Edgar Hernandez, Juan Aguayo, Kyle Logan return to bolster the defensive line, along with Micah Miller.

Two exchange students are also expected to contribute: Niklas Wegner from Germany and Alejandro Sanz from Spain.

Looking past their opener against North Tahoe, the 2014 Nevada Division III state runner-up, the Tigers host defending Northern Division I champion North Valleys on Wednesday and then open against Fernley on Sept. 4 at the Spring Creek Cup.

“We play five games in nine days, so I think we will be able to learn quite a bit about where we are as a team,” Vasquez said. “These are dedicated kids who work hard so I’m looking forward to seeing how we do.”

Meanwhile, the Douglas Tigers Soccer Invitational for junior varsity and small schools varsity teams is being played today and Saturday at Douglas. The JV Tigers play Hug Saturday at 9 a.m., followed by a noon contest against Dayton’s varsity.