KINGMAN – Building a successful program takes years of development and consistent coaching.
The Kingman High School girls soccer team has a strong senior class led by third-year head coach David Kopecky, but is still looking for the final ingredient. That search might finally strike gold this season.
“I think we’re going to be much more competitive than we have been,” Kopecky said. “This is by far the best team we’ve had in three years.”
The solid core of upperclassmen is highlighted by four Lady Bulldogs who have started since their sophomore campaign. Kopecky said those players know what it takes to get to the next level and they will be important in developing the 16 freshmen that tried out.
Kingman still has a lot of work to do after finishing 2-9-1 overall and 2-4 in 3A Region 6, but Kopecky is looking forward to making some noise in the region.
“River Valley has handled us pretty well, but they’re in a rebuilding year,” he said. “Last year we were in a couple games with them. We’re moving up and we might be
able to surprise them a little bit.”
The overall program is also trending in a positive direction as Kopecky has 20 Lady Bulldogs on the junior varsity squad. That isn’t something he could do in the past.
“It’s a lot, but some of those girls in previous years would have to play varsity because of the numbers,” Kopecky said. “With a strong varsity team, I can keep those girls on JV and let them develop more. That’s great for the whole program.”
Kopecky is pleased to see the increased interest level, especially considering Kingman’s recent struggles. However, he knows it has a lot to do with the team’s attitude on and off the field.
“The girls have been really positive through the years,” Kopecky said. “Other girls see that and they want to be part of that. So that’s an exciting part that the girls, even through thin times, have remained very positive and very forward thinking – ‘We’re going to get better.’ That’s awesome.”
Even with that said, Kingman does have a key void to fill this season after graduating one of the region’s top goalkeepers in Desiree Lammers. While only time will tell how the Lady Bulldogs fare, their senior core is expected to pick up the slack.
“Lilly May Garcia, Rachel Torres, Alea Cedillo and Karissa Salmon are the leaders,” Kopecky said. “They’re the ones who are really building the program for the girls younger than them.”
Kingman’s first test is on the road against city rival Lee Williams at 6 p.m. Monday. Kopecky said it’s a fun challenge because all the girls know each other.
“We’re trying hard to beat them and they’re trying hard to beat us,” he said. “But at the end of the day they always go and give hugs as friends. So that’s nice too.”