Girls soccer season previews
Last year: 8-4
Top returners: Andi Bedoya jr.; Karina Cain sr.; Daniela Barajas sr.; Chelsea Perez sr.;
Key newcomers: Mackenzie Michaels fr.; Alyssa Adkins soph.
Coach Joel Ibarra's comments: “Last year was our stepping-stone. Last year was our coaching staff's first year at Cibola, so we're going into our second year so our main goal is always to improve from last year, not only statistic-wise and record-wise but for knowledge of the game for the girls.”
The lowdown: Ibarra says his program is much different from last year. This year he has a plethora of experienced players who have been in the program and he is excited about the combination of experience and young talent heading into the season. His two captains, Andi Bedoya and Karina Cain, both play year-round on club teams and have been exposed to a high level of soccer, something Ibarra knows will pay dividends for his team.
Yuma High Criminals
Last year: 1-11
Top returners: Daniela Angulo jr.; Eli Caro sr.; Hanna Martinez jr.; Amanda Martinez sr.; Bianka Delgado jr.
Key newcomers: Daisey Rodriguez fr.
Coach Tom Coxson's comments: “Last year we had a lot of baggage from previous years, setbacks that the program had had before. Trying to overcome mental blocks about the potential of the team and what is acceptable behavior on and off the field. We overcame a lot of that last year. Last year there was a lot of talk about what had gone on the previous year, and this year there's no talk about what went on before I was coach, and there's very little talk about what went on last year except in the context of what we're going to do better.”
The lowdown: Getting over those mental hurdles might be what the Criminals need to take the next step of rebulding the program. Coxson is instilling a new culture in his team that has been missing for the past few years. Coxson likes where his team stands at the beginning of the season and is hoping to end the year with a five-win season from his young team, which showed glimpses last year — taking third in Yuma Catholic's tourney.
Gila Ridge Hawks
Last year: 5-7
Top returners: Ari Sanchez sr.; Dienna Contreras sr.; Jody Carlton sr.
Key newcomers: Celest Diaz fr.; Caroline Dursee soph.; Asia Chavez jr.
Coach Jon Gronbach's comments: “I like to balance discipline and fun in my sessions, you need a mixture of both. If you're too disciplined, the girls won't want to come to training and they won't get better, but on the flipside if you're having too much fun, nobody gets better at all. Just maintain that fine balance of enjoying the game but becoming better.”
The lowdown: Gronbach is the Hawks' fourth coach in three years, and with all of their captains gone, his team is searching for an identity. Although Gronbach said it will be a “precarious” year, he said he couldn't be more pleased with the attitude of the kids and the support of the parents.
San Luis Sidewinders
Last year: 15-4
Top returners: Alejandro Vasquez sr.; Estafania Hurtado sr.
Key newcomers: Vanessa Gonzalez
Coach Alan Sanchez's comments: “I'm really excited about Vanessa. She's very smart on the field, she knows what she's doing, very mature for her age. I'm really excited to coach her, she seems like she'll do great in season.”
The lowdown: Sanchez is a Sidewinder himself, so the first-year coach is excited to show his pride this season. The extra pride and responsibility of being an alum will provide him plenty of motivation to have his girls perform well. Sanchez says San Luis will implement a passing style with an emphasis on defense.
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Yuma Catholic Shamrocks
Last year: 6-6
Top returners: Morgan Frank sr.; Kalaina Barnett sr.; Krysta Aitken sr.
Key newcomers: Karla Navarro fr.; Ariza Olague fr.; Jasmine Jimenez fr.
Coach Jesus Quintana's comments: “The one big concern that I have was a concern last year, and it hurt us a ton: injuries. We are not a very deep team, we have a limited bench, so any injuries or illnesses can cause some issues for us and that's one thing that caused problems for us last year. We had some untimely injuries and illnesses and it cost our players to miss playing time and that proved to be a little tough for us to overcome.”
The lowdown: The Shamrocks will lean on their seniors for a lot of leadership this year to improve upon last year's .500 record. Coach Quintana is looking to have his team play passing, possession-style soccer, and they'll need to do that especially because of graduating Jackie Hill, last year's leading scorer, and arguably the fastest player on the team. ... In order to stave off injuries, Quintana is hoping to distribute playing time evenly, identifying injuries early so they can be dealt with properly.