Julie Carrington has a good thing going with the girls soccer program at Pahrump Valley High School, and the Trojans have reached the point of simply reloading each season.
Two years ago, Pahrump Valley reached the Class 3A State Tournament but graduated more than 50 goals, almost 30 assists and 13.5 shutouts. Three Trojans seniors are playing soccer in college. No problem: The Trojans reached the states again last season, adding the Southern Region championship along the way.
This year, freshmen are playing key roles, especially on defense. Carrington was concerned that opponents would have the edge in experience against her team, which started five freshmen Thursday against Moapa Valley and had others see significant field time.
Again, no problem: The Trojans were in near-complete control of the Pirates from start to finish, applying pressure on offense, clamping down on defense and peppering the Moapa Valley goal with shot after high-powered shot in a 4-0 victory at Trojan Field.
“Our defensive line worked really well together to keep the pressure up there, and our forwards were working well together,” Carrington said. “Our passing was a lot better; it wasn’t so much kickball. Our wings are working a lot better together; they’re thinking two steps ahead instead of reacting to the ball.
“I honestly couldn’t be more proud.”
Thursday’s lineup featured four juniors, five freshmen, one sophomore and senior Kaylee Vega, a player Carrington said she can put anywhere but who played defense against the Pirates. Junior co-captain Ally Rily anchors the Trojans defense, and she and Vega are impressed with the ability of their younger teammates.
“I’m surprised (Carrington) put so many freshmen in, but they listen so well, they communicate really well, and they know what they’re doing,” Vega said. “And they’re not nervous about asking questions. The freshmen are great.”
“They do excellent,” Rily added. “I’m ecstatic. I love all of them. They’re so good, and actually I didn’t know any of them before (they got to) high school.”
Four players — juniors Makayla Gent and Kaylee Mendoza and freshmen Adryanna Avena-Caraballo and Gabrielle Kullmann — did the scoring for the Trojans, another testament to how widely spread their talent is on the field. Another junior, Madelyn Souza, had assists on two of the goals. The other freshman starters were Sarah Christiansen, Lelia Denton and Madison Lee.
“This core group, my junior group, played all together coming up,” Carrington said. “Before we had the club team out here they still played on a team and they would go to Vegas all the time. And now we have a club team, and these freshmen were on that club team playing together. You can tell. It does help.”
Pahrump Valley’s control of the field certainly drew the attention of Moapa Valley coach Lisa Cornwall. At one point during the second half, Cornwall turned to her bench — which had only six freshmen and sophomores and more players overall than the Trojans’ bench — and said, “They’re playing the way we want you to play.”
“That was our plan going in,” Rily said. “Apply pressure nonstop, get as many shots on goal as we could. We were aggressive.”
Officially, Lee made four saves, but in reality she might have touched the ball four times total. Carrington guessed she had to make two saves, while Rily couldn’t recall any shots on goal getting through the Pahrump Valley defense.
The Trojans (4-0-2) still have five games to work out any minor issues before Sunset League play starts, although what those issues might be is difficult to imagine.
“Before the season even started, everyone just communicated so well,” Vega said. “We all know to cover each other without having to tell each other. We just clicked.”
Words such as those are music to Carrington’s ears.
“They’re pretty coachable, and what’s nice is my older girls are talking to them on the field and those girls are listening to them,” she said. “Not 100 percent of the time, but 90 percent of the time they listen. And the older girls communicate with them very well. I’m just really happy.”