The Pahrump Valley High School girls soccer team has a tough act to follow.
Last year’s Trojans ended a rare playoff drought by making it to the Class 3A state tournament. The school that won state championships in 2011 and 2012 missed postseason play three consecutive years before last season.
But, led by Class 3A Southern Region Offensive Player of the Year Kaitlyn Carrington’s 18 goals and 11 assists, the Trojans roared to a 16-4-3 record, including 8-0-2 in the Sunset League. Two wins in regional play sent them to state, where the ride ended with a 2-1 overtime loss to Truckee.
The problem for the Trojans is that Carrington is just one of several talented seniors who graduated from last year’s team. Carrington, Sydney Dennis and Alyvia Briscoe were selected Class 3A all-state by coaches, while Kathy Niles was second-team Class 3A all-Southern Region.
Statistically, four of the Trojans’ top five goal scorers, four of the top five points leaders and the top three assist leaders are gone, as are Briscoe’s 13.5 shutouts in net. Carrington, Dennis, Niles and Vaniah Vitto accounted for 52 goals and 26 assists.
“I don’t think you can replace that,” Julie Carrington said. “You just have to go with what you have and build them up.”
Part of what she has is a group that filled supporting roles last year, gaining valuable experience by playing with that senior core.
“That was key,” Carrington said. “Even them going in and playing in the state game was key because they saw how fast-paced you have to be. They’re realizing that ball is going to come at you at possibly 25 miles an hour, and you’ve got to stop it. You can’t let that ball get past you.”
The flip side of having a large group of seniors leave is that you have a group of players who have been waiting for them to go so they can step up.
“They’ve worked really hard to get those leading roles,” Carrington said. “Maddie Souza will do it, Grace Gundacker will do it, Makayla Gent will do it. Kaylee Mendoza can do it, Kaylee Vega, Amber Heaney, Sofia Castro.”
Gent already has done it to some extent. She was third on the team in goals with 10, and her 22 points were fourth on the squad. If Carrington doesn’t seem too worried about the other players stepping up on offense, it’s because she’s not.
“We have a lot of girls that have that capability,” she said. “It’s more our midfield and our keeper. We lost a great keeper.”
Briscoe was good enough to make honorable mention all-state from Nevada Preps, which includes players from schools of all sizes on its all-state teams.
But while the Trojans need to replace a ton of offense and an outstanding goalkeeper, Carrington is confident she can maintain the winning atmosphere.
“We always keep expectations high,” she said. “We play to go to state. We don’t play for anything less than that. But first we have to go to regionals.”
If they get to regionals, Carrington wants another shot at Sunrise Mountain, which defeated them in last year’s playoffs.
“We’ve got to take Sunrise,” she said, flashing a determined look. “Hopefully, we’ll get to play them again.”
And if they do, by that time of the season Carrington believes this year’s younger team will be ready for the challenge.
“They have a good drive, they play well together,” she said. “They have that camaraderie that can take us there.”
Contact Sports Editor Tom Rysinski at email@example.com On Twitter:@pvtimes