Talk to Pahrump Valley High School boys soccer coach Chris Roberts, and the word “excited” keeps popping up in the conversation.
Whether he’s talking about improved speed, a better defense in front of second-team all-Sunset League keeper Ian Kingsley or a solid freshman class, Roberts is excited about it.
And this is a program that could use some excitement, as the Trojans have been struggling for the past decade.
In 2007, they made the last of nine consecutive postseason appearances. From 1999-2005, they made state six times in seven seasons. Since then, it’s been kind of ugly.
Over the past 10 years, Pahrump Valley has gone 42-131-26. There have been no .500 records, with the closest being 7-10-2 in 2013 and 7-10-4 in 2011, with two winless league seasons and one winless season overall. The Trojans have not finished higher than fifth in their league in that time.
So why the excitement?
For senior center midfielder Jose Chavez, part of the reason is second-year coach Chris Roberts.
“I think with coach Roberts coming in since last year, we can get more wins than we’ve had,” said Chavez, the team’s leading scorer in 2017 with seven goals and four assists. “I’m expecting more this year. I think we can go to regionals if we really put our minds to that.”
That would be a huge step forward for the program, and if it happens, Roberts said Chavez will be one of many reasons.
“Jose is really good at controlling, and he’s got a good shot,” Roberts said. “We have a lot more speed this year, so I’m looking forward to Abraham (Alvarez) on the outside and our midfield in general. I think we’re faster and we’re more fit, and they came in with a willingness to succeed. They did a lot of conditioning this summer.”
Although Alvarez is a junior, the right back is a newcomer to Pahrump.
“My freshman year, when I lived in Vegas, we played them here,” said Alvarez, who played on a Durango junior varsity squad that posted a 4-1 win over the Trojans in 2016. “I never thought I would move over here, but things happen, and now I’m just glad I get to be part of the team.
“It is my first year here, so I’m kind of getting used to everyone. They all have the chemistry, and I’m just playing along, getting used to it.”
The mention of team chemistry brings a smile to Roberts’ face.
“I’m always completely pushing a team concept, no negativity,” Roberts said. “People make mistakes, and you can’t get down on them for that. I’m always pushing the positive and make sure they’re uplifting each other and creating a team environment where they push each other.”
Although a few seniors did not return, numbers are up in the boys soccer program, with a full 16-player varsity roster and 18 more on the junior varsity. “I’m looking forward to have people to move around, people to sub out when they’re tired, people to fill in gaps,” Roberts said.
Junior Ian Kingsley returns in the net for the Trojans after being named second-team Class 3A All-Sunset League last year. Considering Pahrump Valley surrendered 115 goals in 22 games, it is impressive opposing coaches noticed his ability.
“He was our starter as a sophomore and made second-team all-league last year, and from where we were in our position to get that accolade was pretty good,” Roberts said. “He was averaging a lot of shots on goal and had a lot of saves, but there’s only so many saves you can make when you’re getting hammered in goal. This year we’re a lot stronger in the back, so I’m excited to see what we can do.”
Roberts is high on his freshmen, two of whom made varsity. Deeper, faster, stronger seems to be the mantra, and the coach’s excitement just might be warranted. Chavez certainly thinks so.
“I have a lot of optimism,” Chavez said. “I’m hungry for this season. I’m very hungry. This is my last year, and I want to do something this year.”
Contact Sports Editor Tom Rysinski at email@example.com On Twitter:@pvtimes