Photo by Shawn Byrne.
KINGMAN – The level of success on the pitch achieved by Lee Williams this season is going to be determined by how quickly the younger Volunteers adapt to play at the varsity level.
And, for that matter, first-year boys soccer coach Gabe Otero.
Lee Williams saw 12 seniors graduate after last season’s squad that reached the Division IV state championship tournament. There are four returners from last year’s roster with only two seniors. Nearly half the team is comprised of underclassmen, five sophomores and two freshmen. The junior class has six representatives on the team.
“We’re young and we’re small,” Otero said. “I tell them they can be the small guy, the younger guy, but they can know how to play big and strong. This year is going to be just that. My younger kids are going to learn how to play strong, aggressive and outwork the competition.”
Senior Carlos Castaneda and junior Aiden Cordes have been named captains for the Vols. Those two along with sophomore Jose Castaneda and junior Aaron Martinez are the returners. Otero has the roster at 15, including junior goalkeeper River Sutton.
Carlos Castaneda recognizes the tall order it’s going to take for the Vols to return to the playoffs, especially with a move up from last year’s D-IV to this year’s 4A Conference.
It’s possible,” the senior captain said. “We have a lot of work to do. We are young and working to get the young guys ready for the future.”
Castaneda has a great leg and has helped the keeper in the past few seasons with his defensive prowess. He should be back there to assist Sutton.
“It looks like I’ll be staying in my defensive role,” Castaneda said. “But if I’m needed on offense, I can do that.”
Otero’s plan is for the Vols to play strong, aggressive and work hard, something that will be accomplished by the Vols’ energy level.
“If you come out and watch the Volunteers’ soccer team, you’ll see a high-paced, high-intensity and extremely loud soccer game,” the coach said. “I’m loud coach. My job is to get them ready for the game, and during the game, my job is to motivate them.”
A soccer pitch is larger than a football field, and with no time to huddle up, communication is key to success. Otero wants the Vols to master it.
“I’m training them to be loud and use their voice that could not only throw off the other team, but create the chemistry that is going to win games,” he said.
Lee Williams opens its season when the Vols host Kingman at 6 p.m. Nov. 29.
(All games 6 p.m. unless
Nov. 29 vs. Kingman
Dec. 1 vs. River Valley
Dec. 8-10 @ Mohave County Boys
River Valley, 8 a.m.
Dec. 13 vs. Sunrise Mountain
Dec. 15 at Metro Tech
Jan. 5 vs. Flagstaff
Jan. 10 @ Coconino, 3 p.m.
Jan. 12 vs. Bradshaw Mountain
Jan. 17 at Buckeye
Jan. 19 vs. Prescott
Jan. 24 at Mohave
Jan. 26 vs. Mingus
Grand Canyon Region
LEE WILLIAMS (10-6-2), Mohave (16-6), Bradshaw Mountain (9-7), Flagstaff (8-6), Mingus (6-6), Prescott (2-10), Coconino (0-11-1).
Caleb Grimmett, Joseph Sanfilippo.
Jason Arreola, Jose Castaneda, Christion Martinez, Cayden Robles, Colby Robles.
Aiden Cordes (Captain), Aaron Martinez, Chad Moore, Matthew Nguyen, River Sutton (GK).
Carlos Castaneda (Captain), Cezar Reyes.