Several new faces comprise Vista soccer roster

By: Brett Ransford Telegraph Correspondent
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The tides are shifting at Vista del Lago High School. The Eagles were 30 seconds away from the school’s first trip to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV title game since the program began in 2008. In four years, former coach Jimmy Frazelle and JV coach Joe Esfandiary collectively built a program to be reckoned with. When Frazelle stepped out prior to the start of the boys’ 2011 season, the reigns were quickly handed to Esfandiary. In his inaugural season as both boys’ and girls’ varsity teams coach, Esfandiary took over the boys’ team on a hastened deadline—a team which was comfortable with Frazelle’s style—and led the boys’ team to the school’s first soccer section title. The potential for an experienced team returning this season was great. Or at least it looked like it to most. Vista graduated two seniors, but last year’s squad had seven juniors, four sophomores and an extraordinary 10 freshmen. In the second act of his encore magic show, a total of five players returned to Esfandiary’s team. Last year the U.S. Soccer Academy passed down a rule, which among other things, stated its players would have to decide to either player for the academy, or their high school team—but not both. Following suit, area club teams are respectively holding onto some of its players. “We lost many quality players to their club teams not allowing the girls to play high school soccer, or not being flexible enough,” Esfandiary said. It’s a lot to ask of a first-year coach, but no one would be able to tell by asking Esfandiary. He took over the position on last-minute notice. Nearly 20 JV and non-returning players comprise his current team. Yet, the coach’s outlook is as positive as could be. “My only expectation is that each player put in 100 percent in practices and games and also have a positive attitude,” Esfandiary said. “As this is a rebuilding year, I expect to spend a lot of time trying to teach the rhythm of the game and developing a style that works best for the players I have.” So far the new-look Eagles are 2-1-1, including a 1-0 defeat of Oak Ridge. Senior Dani Davis, juniors Stephanie Clawson, Shandy Nanomantube and Kenzie Mercier and sophomore Sarah Hollinghaus are the handful of returners. Esfandiary said he’s interested in developing skills, confidence and enjoyment for the game. “If we win games too, that’s an added bonus,” Esfandiary said.