Denair and Delhi High varsity girls soccer teams are ready to compete in the Southern Athletic League, eager to turnaround last year’s disappointing finishes.
Denair took sixth in league and went 2-9-3, while Delhi placed fifth with a 4-9-1 record. However, things are looking up for both the Hawks and Coyotes this season.
The Coyotes of Denair have a new head coach in Greg Gaudio, who also coaches the boys. Delhi brings back second-year varsity head coach Oscar Zagazeta and his high energy and enthusiasm is sure to bring new energy into the year with the herd of freshmen that join the varsity team.
“I have 22 players and nine are freshmen,” said Zagazeta. “What I did was pick out the top 22 players I had, whether they were sophomore, seniors or whatever. That is what I got and especially since we weren't going to have a JV team, it is building for the future. They are having fun and that is important.”
“Now they are playing a different style of soccer, that is the difference,” said Gaudio about this year’s Denair team. “Before they were more of a power team, but now they are going to be a touch team. I told them last year they were trying to be competitive, but this year they are going to compete and so that is what they are trying to get to. So far so good, they look good so far.”
Taking as many shots as possible is strategy Gaudio is implementing this year. He also will utilize as many players as he can by subbing and rotating in at least 17 players per game he said.
“I constantly run players so they stay hydrated and run as hard as they can run; (it’s a) different style,” said Gaudio. “Most of these kids played physical, swarming the ball, but I like when they are always running and moving.”
The Coyotes will have to lean on the entire squad and newcomer goalkeeper Courtney Prock, who has shown great signs so far according to Gaudio.
“Courtney Prock is doing great and she is tall as well at goalkeeper,” said Gaudio. “This year I want them to space out and shoot more. I have a lot of freshmen and a new goalie as well. I have five seniors, that is it, but I also have a backup goalkeeper, which is great. We will see what happens; our team is excited.”
Delhi will be led by captain and junior Emily Salazar, who will be the anchor.
Danielle Valdez is expected to return at goalkeeper, after a standout season just a year ago.
“The girls are learning a lot and we will take it one day at a time,” said Zagazeta. “The girls selected Emily as the captain and she is very good. She plays for a travel team and plays year-round. She is our best player, people should look out for her, she is very good.” '
Zagazeta is also expecting his squad to take it one game at a time and not look too far ahead if they wish to continue to progress at a steady pace.
“The girls haven't set a goal, but my goal is take it one touch at a time, to be better than last year,” said Zagazeta. “Do better than last year. If we make the playoffs, that's great, if we don't that is fine. My goal is really to have a decent passing team. I want to build a decent passing team that talks, communicates, moves, passes alone, shields, I want a solid team that passes well and knows what to do on the field
“We love to win and hate to lose, but it is not life and death, it is something that happens, we can't concentrate too much on it because then it diminishes your performance, concentrate on doing your best and go from there,” Zagazeta added.
Denair will take on Big Valley Christian on the road at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Delhi will take on Big Valley Christian at home at 3:30 p.m. Friday.