Tuesday marked the first meeting of the year between Denair and Turlock Christian varsity boys soccer, two teams that are familiar with one another and are looking to build off last year.
It was a defensive contest and in the end the Coyotes of Denair held on for a close 1-0 win over TC after a Ramiro Diaz’ goal.
“Honestly, with how many shots we had and to only have one goal, that is not right… they need to put more in the back of the net,” said Denair head coach Greg Gaudio. “They have to focus more on where the goalie is and where the defense is because they are just shooting, but we need to focus on space.”
“Our last game we lost 5-3, so we focused on defense more this time around and it showed with one goal, much better than last time… practice is working,” said TC head coach Tevin Jones.
The Eagles of TC are also boasting the only girl to play on a boys squad in captain Kaylee de la Motte.
She started and played the entire game on Tuesday and was effective from start to finish.
“She is one of our better players and it is exciting to watch her play,” said Jones about de la Motte. “She is the girl in the middle, plays great, hope she plays in college, she should, she has great vision and great ball control.”
De la Motte landed on the boys team after TC couldn’t put together a full girls squad.
“We don’t have a girls’ team and she came up to me and really wanted to play,” said Jones. “She has a lot of passion, it is contagious for the team. We been working with her, since soccer is a physical sport, and she is not the tallest either, I’ve been training her to stay low to have leverage. Like in football, the lowest man will win, so I’ve been teaching to body up low and it is working well. She is holding her own.”
Last year TC went 2-6 in the Central California Athletic Alliance, which placed them in fourth as they went 5-10 overall.
This year the team is hungry for a better outcome and the goal is to best their performance from last season with a couple of returners that include Nathan Son and Ryan Beard.
“This year we want to be better than that so we are aiming for second or third, that is our goal this year,” said Jones. “We lost a lot of seniors last year, but a lot of star players were juniors so they stepped up and are now seniors, learning their roles as captains and leaders and they are playing better as a unit now.”
Denair barely missed the postseason last year after placing fifth in the Southern Athletic League with a record of 6-6-2. They went 10-9-2 overall.
They also lost their leading scorer and defender from that team, but the Coyotes are bringing back well over half the squad from a season ago.
“This year for the most part we have guys that have been around longer, they have been playing together and they know each other better than last year,” said Gaudio. “So really, we should be able to progress moving forward, but it is all about desire.”
Goalkeeper Kyle Cervantes is one of the returners for this group.
“Now we have the guys from last year and most of them have come forward so we have a lot more speed, got a lot of good size and really, we have better shooters overall,” said Gaudio.
Denair will next host TC at 4 p.m. Thursday.