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Cibola hoping to shatter expectations
The Cibola girls soccer team is feeling the pressure this season — and the Raiders are feeding off it.
Even though they were 10-2 last season, won the now-defunct Gila Valley Region and made the playoffs, the Raiders are out to prove they are better than people expect them to be, Cibola senior sweeper Aimee Rodriguez said.
“I think we might be coming out as underdogs, but I like that,” Rodriguez said. “They'll be seeing new things from Cibola so I'm excited to show what we've got.”
The Raiders are under new leadership this year with the addition of first year coach Joel Ibarra to their program.
Ibarra is a Cibola grad and played on the boys varsity team for four years. He also has experience playing at the college level, playing at Yavapai College and Grand Canyon University. He said he is excited about his first coaching opportunity.
“It's pretty interesting coming into a program that's been dominating this sport here in Yuma. Coming in here is a new challenge that I have now. It's my first coaching job so hopefully it's a really good experience.”
The talk of a not-so-good Cibola team has reached Ibarra, too. But he said he isn't worried because he's already seen his players rising to the challenge.
“There's a lot of juniors and seniors that are stepping it up such as Kristiana Argomariz, Rebecca Wendt and Karina Cain. Those are girls that are stepping it up,” Ibarra said. “Even the younger underclassmen such Andi Bedoya and Leslie Perez are stepping it up for the girls who left.”
The Raiders lost 11 players — eight of which were starters — last year. Losing that many players can upset the balance of any team, but Ibarra said that his girls just need to find their groove together on the field. Also factoring in are the continually improving programs at Kofa and San Luis.
“The main concern will be organization on the field — especially on the defensive side,” Ibarra said. “If we're organized on the field I think we should have a successful year.”
Rodriguez said that the team is feeding off their new coach's positive attitude and that is helping to build a good team mentality heading into the season.
“I'm pretty excited because our new coach is really optimistic about us,” Rodriguez said. “He's really encouraging. We've had really good coaches in the past and he's another one coming in. He's really excited for us and he's just encouraging us all.”
Senior midfielder Naiby Rodriguez said that this year is especially important to her and her sister Aimee because they are seniors. But instead of taking it easy in her final year, Naiby said she is going to work even harder to make sure her team has a good season.
“(Being a senior) means that we have to give it our all every single game. We can't just slack off,” Naiby Rodriguez said. “Every game matters and we have to stay focused all the time. Just because we win one day, it just means we have to think about the next game. We want to finish strong — this is our last year.”
Sophomore midfielder Andi Bedoya said that with all the hard work the Raiders are putting in this year, their opponents might have to do a double-take when they see what they have got in store.
“We're expecting big things,” Bedoya said. “I think that other teams are going to be surprised at the talent that we still have Cibola.”
Erin Redmond can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6880.