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Kings planning on postseason
The players on the Kofa girls soccer team will admit they aren't the biggest, strongest or fastest team in the state. But after going undefeated locally last year, they're ready to declare they're the smartest.
Coach Marisela Velasquez preaches a possession-style brand of soccer that allows her team to let their opponent tire itself out.
“I always focus on state,” Velasquez said. “So I know that when we go and play the Phoenix teams, we're usually the shorter team, a little bit slower. They're usually faster, taller, stronger. So we have to play possession-style game where we possess it instead of sending the long balls and trying to run with it. We're not going to try to outrun or outjump them.”
The Kings like to keep it on the ground, which has led to success in recent years.
“Since we are smaller than them, we try not to play with the ball in the air,” said junior Abby Rosales, who was the 2011-12 Yuma Sun/Yuma Rotary Club Girls Soccer Player of the Year after scoring 22 goals and handing out 21 assists as a sophomore.
“We try to do quick passes into feet. When we do quick passes and move around, it'll make it easier for us and make them more tired.”
Kofa was 11-1 last year but met the eventual state champions in the first round and were defeated rather soundly, 6-0.
Back from last year are all-region team goal keeper Danielle Torres, Rosales and Nicole Hartman.
“Nicole is a defender,” Velasquez said. “She has a white truck over there and her license plate says ‘Brick Wall' and that's pretty much what she is. She has great speed in the back and she even if she gets beat, she can catch up to pretty much anybody. She's our brick wall.”
Velasquez described Rosales as the quarterback on the field for the Kings. “She directs the ball and handles all of that. She was our player of the year last year.”
Velasquez is taking the team to a Phoenix tournament early in the year to give her players an early taste of what playing the big, bad Phoenix teams is like.
“It will give us a good barometer at the beginning of the season. If our goal is to get back to state and that's the level we're going to be playing up there, what are the things we need to work on. They tend to expose a lot of our weaknesses early in the year, especially early in the season.”
One thing Velasquez won't need to worry about is chemistry.
“Fortunately most of the girls play together in a traveling team in the offseason, so they're used to playing with each other. They can read each other, what's on their minds.”
For Hartman, the first-round elimination wasn't quite enough.
“I want to actually be able to succeed in state, because we've always had our goal to go undefeated amongst the region teams and we kind of want to expand on that. Go farther than just Yuma.”