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Vista soccer team features good mix of veterans, fresh faces

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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After losing its first two games against Rocklin and Ponderosa, Vista del Lago’s soccer team turned things around with two wins last week to even its record.

The defending section champion Eagles opened the week March 5 with a 4-1 win over Stagg with all four goals coming in the first half. Janae Gonzales scored twice, while Keri Reinbolt and Chayney Mata added goals. Gonzalez, Mata and Sierra Ciampa had assists.

Vista controlled the ball and pounded the Stagg defense, putting 14 shots on net, four by freshman Macey Moen and three by Brittany Fox. Shandy Nanomantube made one save in goal.

On Thursday, Vista kicked off Sierra Valley Conference play with a 3-0 win over Union Mine. Moen, Reinbolt and Gonzalez scored in the win, while Gonzalez also added an assist.

“We’ve got a young team, as we’re not as experienced as last year,” Vista coach Joe Esfandiary said. “But this team has a good attitude and is determined. We’re building the program, not rebuilding. We’re going to have to work hard to do it.”

Despite losing to Rocklin and Ponderosa, the Eagles played well, as Esfandiary said the results of the game don’t justify how his team played.

“We made a couple of mistakes and were punished for them, and at the other end we didn’t put some shots away,” Esfandiary said.

This year’s team features five seniors: Nanomantube, Stephanie Clawson, Briana Cranston, Madeline Michaels and Morgan Odell. Michaels has already suffered a knee injury and will miss times, as will junior Alyssa Wilson.

While missing those players will hurt, Gonzales is off to a hot start and has been leading the offensive attack.

“Janae has improved quite a bit from last year and, of course, is a year older and more experienced,” Esfandiary said.

Based on last year’s league standings, Esfandiary figures the toughest competition to come from Cosumnes Oaks and Liberty Ranch.

“It will be an interesting season,” Esfandiary said. “We’ve got a good mixture of five seniors with several juniors and a sophomore and two freshmen. We’re going to have to mix and mesh them and get them to play together.”

Vista plays host to Cosumnes Oaks Tuesday and travels to River City Thursday.