A positive attitude is going to be the key for the Los Lunas girls soccer team this year, and keeping that attitude throughout the season will be even more important, after an emotionally draining season last year. The Lady Tigers finished last season with a respectable 8-12 record, but of the 12 games they lost, half were in double overtime.
“It wore on us to be so close so often,” Lady Tiger head coach Pat Powers said. “But we can use that as experience and tell ourselves we need to finish those games.”
In an effort to finish those close games, the Lady Tigers are saying goodbye to the 4-3-3 formation and moving to a stronger midfield with the 4-4-2. The change may hurt their attack, but it should help the Tigers control the ball through the midfield without getting tired out.
“It’s going to give us more options,” head coach Pat Powers said, “and we should see better movement on the field.”
The change of formation will also help the Lady Tigers adjust to losing eight seniors from last year’s squad. The Lady Tigers will have to fill in at some key positions, including sweeper and goalkeeper.
“We have a strong core of juniors coming back,” Powers said. “We’ll be okay, because we have some good quality players to step into those positions.”
Los Lunas has six seniors stepping in this year to fill the void left by their graduated comrades.
Paige Powers and Leslie Urtiaga will be sharing time at keeper this year, while Danette Jaramillo will step in at sweeper to run the defense.
“Danette will give 110 percent every game,” coach Powers said. “She has matured very well and provides solid defense and leadership.”
Powers and Urtiaga will be rotating at keeper in order to give both of them time on the field, Powers should see time at center midfield and coach Powers will be moving Urtiaga all over the field.
“Leslie is a very versatile player, and we’re going to use her talent,” coach Powers said.
Coach Powers is also expecting to see a lot from the young crop of players coming up this year, adding two freshman, Michelle Sumner and Tanya Hansen, to the roster.
“They are both very versatile players,” Powers said. “They’ll see time at both ends of the field.”
The Tigers will have their work cut out for them in District 3-5A this year. Las Cruces High School is expected to be on top of the district again this year, but Gadsden, Alamogordo and Mayfield can’t be counted out, according to Powers.
“Gadsden is always a wildcard,” Powers said. “Alamogordo got a new coach this year, but they also have a lot of returning talent, and Mayfield came on very strong at the end of last season.”
With as many near-misses as they had last year, the Lady Tigers feel they have something to prove in the district this year, according to Powers.
“This is a good mix of players, and the team has a great personality,” Powers said. “We have to stay focused. We’re the odd-man-out in the district, and we feel that we have something to prove. We have to make it obvious to the other teams that we deserve respect.”
The lady Tigers will kick off their season on Aug. 27 with a home game against Del Norte High School at 4 p.m. That same weekend, the Lady Tigers will make their annual trip to the Clovis invitational.