Updated August 16, 2022 - 8:37 pm
Dana Neel has every reason to feel good about her Coronado girls soccer team.
The Cougars won the Class 5A state championship last season and have a strong core returning.
“It’s exciting. There a buzz about us because there’s so much talent out there,” Neel said. “But we’re just at the beginning of putting it together. Hopefully we can end it like we did last season.”
The girls soccer season begins Thursday, with Coronado set to open Friday at a tournament at Douglas High School in Minden.
The Cougars will get a good look at the tournament at a Faith Lutheran team that could be their main competition for the state title. They have met in the past two state championship games, with Faith Lutheran winning in 2019 and Coronado last year.
Trinity Buchanan had 15 goals and 12 assists, Xayla Black added 14 goals and eight assists, and Milan Cordone finished with nine goals and eight assists last season. All three are back and eager to lead the Cougars to another title.
“That group of three has a confidence about them and the knowledge of how to lead and get it done,” Neel said. “It’s been neat to watch them play with the new additions and bring them up.”
Coronado knows winning last year’s title puts a target on its back, and Neel expects to see plenty of strong competitors for the crown.
Neel said she heard Faith Lutheran picked up some younger players that will replace ones it lost, while Palo Verde also added some. Shadow Ridge looks “pretty well-rounded, and Bishop Gorman seems to have picked up a few here and there and might be able to put something together,” she said.
Faith Lutheran has a new coach in McKenzie Karas, who played at Arbor View before going on to Washington, where she was an All-Pac-12 defender.
“I know (Karas), and they’ll play a little different style, but I think most would tell you give me the good talent and I’ll be a better coach,” Gorman coach Doug Borgel said. “She was a great player and relates to kids well.”
Gorman won state championships in 2017 and 2018, and Borgel has high expectations despite a lack of star power.
“I like our depth this year versus last year,” he said. “We have a good balance of talent and some really good young players.”
Gorman will find out quickly in league play where it stands. Its first six games are against Coronado, Arbor View, Palo Verde, Faith Lutheran, Centennial and Green Valley, who all are expected to finish in the top half of the league.
“With the realigned 5A, there are not a lot of easy games anymore,” Borgel said. “I’d expect Coronado to be the team to beat, but there’s always somebody else that steps up. Arbor is usually pretty good, and Faith hast really stepped up the past few years.”
Arbor View is young, but the Aggies have the confidence of being the only team that beat Coronado last season. Coach Erica Peeples lost 12 seniors, but returns midfielder Madison Little and Isabella Stodes, who plays several positions.
“I definitely expect to see the usual teams like Coronado and Faith at the top,” Peeples said. “Both are strong programs. They have a strong culture, which you notice in a lot of 5A teams.”
Players to watch
— Adryanna Avena-Caraballo, Pahrump Valley — The senior had a valley-best 99 points (39 goals, 21 assists) last season.
— Xayla Black, Coronado — The senior had 14 goals and eight assists last season.
— Melinda Bravo-Avendano, Cimarron-Memorial — The senior was second in the valley with 97 points (37 goals, 23 assists) last season.
— Trinity Buchanan, Coronado — The senior had 15 goals and 12 assists last season.
— Mia Coe, Faith Lutheran — The senior had 12 goals and nine assists last season.