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Vista girls' soccer team has high expectations for season

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Ten seniors graduated from Vista del Lago’s girls’ soccer team in the spring, but 14 players return on a veteran team with the potential to go deep in the playoffs.

The Eagles lost in the second round of the Division III playoffs a season ago, but this year hope to make it even further with the all the talent returning.

Among the 14 returning players are tri-captains Caroline Guthrie, Emma Duckett and Kayla Carlson. Guthrie, a senior, was the team’s second-highest goal scorer last season with eight. Duckett is a junior forward who had five goals last year. She can also play midfield and even played defense in Vista’s game last week against Granite Bay. Carlson is a senior and leader in the midfield.

Throw in senior forwards Lexie Shumaker and Halli Stewart-Heckler (three goals each last year) and Emily Downs (two goals) and junior forward Megan Ormson (three goals), and the Eagles have plenty of scoring depth returning. Junior Taylor Ciampa is a midfielder, while defenders include seniors Mekaylla White, Payton Zanatta, Mavi Parker, Jessica Brossart, Rachel Aspergren, and Laine Godwin.

Among the 10 newcomers include junior forward Katie Edlund, senior midfielder Amaya Menezes and junior midfielders Jocelyn Balinsat and Anabelle Conneely, and junior defenders Kaitlyn Hagel, Megan Hammer, Fancesca Leonardi, and Ally Boldt. The team’s two new goalkeepers will be sophomores Mia Saavedra and Allie Hartman.

The biggest question mark entering the season is in goal, as both keepers are sophomores new to the varsity level.

“Mia was going to play midfield on JV, but we needed her to play goal on varsity,” Vista coach Jaimy McLaughlin said. “She’s played in goal before, has good technique and is really good, so she should be OK.”

If Saavedra is solid, Vista could be one of the favorites in Division III with all the talent they have returning.

“This is the most talented team I’ve had in terms of technical ability and there is a lot of team speed,” McLaughlin said. “The  section title team a few years ago had more of the ‘grrr factor,’ meaning they had the attitude of ‘you’re not going to beat us.’ This team is technically skillful, and I have quite a few seniors, so leadership should be strong. The goal this year is to win the section.”

Vista is off to a 3-3-1 start to the season. After opening with a 1-1 tie against Casa Roble, the Eagles won three of four games in the Sierra High Tournament with wins over Enochs (2-0), Central Catholic (3-0) and Ceres (6-2) with the loss coming against Clovis North (3-0). The team dropped a pair of games this week to Rocklin (4-2) and Granite Bay (4-1).

The Eagles open Capital Athletic League play at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Capital Christian.