WINTER SPORTS PREVIEW: Fresh faces look to guide Havasu girls soccer into new year
The Lake Havasu girls soccer team is coming off of a losing season last year that saw them go 3-7-2 overall and 1-4 in Desert West regional play out of the 5A conference.
However, after graduating 11 seniors the Knights have a fresh roster of girls and are looking to make it to the playoffs for the first time in program history after missing it last year by a few power points.
“We have a good, stable group of girls this year,” Lake Havasu coach Josh Kistler said. “A couple of years ago the team hadn’t won any games in a long time or even scored goals. Every year I want these girls to build on the program and last year we just missed the state tournament. So if we can make it this year we are doing good.”
Along with a fresh roster, the girls team is under new leadership with Kistler who coached the junior varsity team last year and has been coaching soccer for the past 12 years.
Out of the 16 players the girls team is fielding this year, eight are returning from last year. According to the players, the team is gelling like they have been playing together forever.
“The team is really nice. Everybody gets along and feels like a family,” senior goalkeeper Aubbie Harris said. “I feel like there is a lot of individual talent. Most of the players are coming up from JV and experiencing the fast pace and aggression of varsity. So far they can match the aggression very well.”
Along with Harris, senior Hallie Thompson and Izzy Kistler are this year’s captains and are expected to lead the Knights to achieve their goal of making the playoffs.
Havasu’s defense is going to play a big part in achieving that goal this year. While Kistler said the Knights offense could still improve, they have players who can put the ball in the back of the net. So the longer the defense can keep the ball out of the Knights defensive half, the more opportunities they will have to score and win games.
Unlike the boys team, the girls will be playing the majority of their games on the road. Out of the 13 games Havasu will play this season, the Knights will only be at home for five of them.
They still love the field, though, and are going to take advantage of every game they play on it.
“It’s made us realize how much has changed for us,” Thompson said. “The ball plays differently on this field than it used to. Like when the ball comes down it’s not such a big bounce anymore and it doesn’t change directions on weird bounces. When we go play other teams it’s going to be different because we’ve gotten used to this field.”
Just like all of the other teams this winter, the girls will have new opponents when regional play rolls around. The Knights are now in the 4A conference in the West Valley region. Along with Havasu, Glendale Deer Valley and Goodyear Desert Edge made the move — both of which the Knights lost to last year.
As for their new opponents, Peoria and Glendale Cactus, the Knights will have to see what they are like when they play them since they have little knowledge of them.
Cactus is coming off of a losing season that saw them go 2-10 overall and 1-4 in regional play. Peoria is also coming off of a losing season but fared a little better at 5-7 overall and 2-3 in West Valley play.
The Knights already got the season going on Tuesday when they lost 4-2 on the road to Lee Williams. Havasu continues on the road when they travel to Mohave Valley on Tuesday to face River Valley at 6 p.m.
This season has a lot of positivity going into it for a Havasu team that has not seen a lot of wins over the years. However, that just might be what they need if they are going to turn things around.
“We’ve got a good team with a lot of potential,” Izzy Kistler said. “We’re just exciting to get things going.”