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Fighting Zebras soccer kicks off season at Roseville

New head coach has high expectations
By: Joshua Gutierrez/News Messenger Correspondent
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The Lincoln High boys soccer kicked off with a 4-1 exhibition loss to Roseville High School. All five points last Friday were scored in an eventful second half of play. In the first half of the match, stellar defensive play by both clubs kept the score tied at 0-0. Of the two clubs, Lincoln held the advantage by aggressively attacking during most of the first half. Though the Fighting Zebras had fewer shots on goal, the team had greater time of possession. A combined six shots on goal were attempted by the two clubs. Two critical saves by Lincoln goalkeeper Josh Van Pohl kept the game stalemated. Roseville made an adjustment at halftime that was instrumental in orchestrating the first goal of the game. It came as a chip shot from 10 feet, in only the second minute of the second half. Lincoln junior Christian Hengel responded with a score to tie the game just minutes after the Tigers took the lead. The goal came on a free corner kick by Isaul Batista. The Tigers quickly broke the 1-1 deadlock over the next 15 minutes with back-to-back goals. The tale of two halves came down to possession of the ball and keeping it deep on Lincoln’s side of the field. Where Lincoln controlled the ball for most of the first half, Roseville took control with solid passing and penetration in the second half. With the score 3-1 in favor of the Tigers, Lincoln put together two separate plays that could have tied the game. In the 72nd minute, an attempt from 15 feet barely missed. Two minutes later, a similar shot flew over the rival goalkeeper’s head. The two missed opportunities ended what could have been a spectacular comeback. As added insurance, Roseville scored their final goal with three minutes remaining. Though the final score was one-sided, head coach Vasa Lokteff commented on his squad’s first taste of action. “I thought we played well today,” said Lokteff. “We had a lot of opportunities on goal and hit the crossbar a couple of times.” Varsity captain senior Ryan Longley reiterated his coach’s sentiment with comments on the team’s performance. “I think we looked good out there,” he said. “We were switching players around; we were trying to find a rhythm. Season Outlook First year head coach Lokteff inherits a team that fought into the second round of the 2011 Division III playoffs. “My expectations are pretty high this year,” said Lokteff. “We have a very talented team, a lot of great players … so I think we can do a lot this year.” The 2011 squad, led by now-departed coach Jason Treanor, finished with a 12-5-5 record. In the Pioneer Valley League, Lincoln finished second to only Placer in the standings. The 4-2-4 record in the PVL was a strong record in a very tight league. 2012’s PVL schedule will start Sept. 16, at home, against Bear River, a team that failed to notch a PVL win in 2011. In last year’s contests, the Zebras both contests against the Bruins, 2-1 and 3-1. Though the early portion of their league games will be played on the road, Lincoln fans will be able to witness their club finish off their PVL schedule playing four of the six remaining games at home. The last test for the club will be against the 2011 season’s top-ranked Placer Hillmen. As for the players, the Zebras’ 2012 campaign will have to match the productivity of last year’s strikers, Arley Ibarra and Eddie Hernandez. The duo combined to score 21 of the club’s 37 goals last season. The departure of Ibarra and Hernandez left a void to be filled by returning seniors Van Phole, Eduardo Amaya, and Longley. The trio will take over a team with high expectation not only for themselves and what they hope to accomplish in league. “I’m hoping for a trip to playoffs again,” said Longley. “It’s senior year … just want to win it all.” The Zebras’ PVL Schedule: Date Opponent Place Time Sept. 16 Bear River Home 4 pm Sept. 24 Colfax Away 4 pm Oct. 1 Center Away 5 pm Oct. 3 Foothill Away 5 pm Oct. 8 Placer Home 4 pm Oct. 10 Colfax Home 4 pm Oct. 15 Bear River Away 4 pm Oct. 17 Center Home 4 pm Oct. 22 Foothill Home 4 pm Oct. 24 Placer Away 5 pm