Youthful soccer squad takes strides
With only two returning players from the previous year, the Yaks 2023 soccer team had to come together quickly on the pitch. And like most young teams, the Yaks experienced their ups and downs on the way to finishing in the middle of the pack in the NWAC East Region, compiling a 6-8 record in conference matches and a 7-9 overall record.
“I think we have a great group of players and I’m proud of our team,” said Head Coach Josh Vega. “That lack of experience and chemistry cost us in games a few times. Having those shared experiences of getting results in tough games takes time, but I’m proud of the strides the team has made this season.”
Among the standout moments of the season was a 2-1 victory over Blue Mountain Community College in September. Brynn Rees netted the first goal of the match for the Yaks in the 70th minute, only to have Blue Mountain tie things up in the 88th minute.
But coming onto the field in the final moments, Josslyn Simmons scored in the 90th minute to secure the victory.
“That was a special one, you never forget those games,” said Vega.
With so many new players, Vega said he was glad to see how well team members gelled together off the field.
“There’s a genuine connection they all seem to have,” he said. “They have a great time together and function like a family. It isn’t always perfect but we work through things as we continue to grow and learn.”
Freshman mid-fielder Brynn Rees was named to the East Region All-Star squad while teammates Arlene Mendea, Grace Russell and Delaney Sullivan all received Honorable Mention recognition.
The team now is in full recruiting mode, a process Vega said involves the entire team.
“It’s all about what we can do to improve, finding players who can come in and make us better and give more depth as well as establish some continuity going forward so we aren’t rebuilding year after year,” he said.
With much more experience returning to the squad next season and the talent of another recruiting class, Vega is optimistic in the team’s ability to improve and turn a few more results their way in 2024.
“I feel honored every day to be around our girls,” he said. “They’re an amazing group and they’ve bought into me, the school and the community and really have taken on the mantle of who we are as Yaks. I can’t wait to see where we are this time next year.”