With nine players lost due to graduation — including stars such as Jenna Farboud, Kylie Tierney and Clara Goin — there is some uncertainty in the air for the Davis High girls soccer team as it begins its season next week.
The Blue Devils, who finished as the co-champion of the Delta Valley Conference with Franklin as well as runners-up to the same Wildcats for the 2013 Sac-Joaquin Section title, will be hard-pressed to improve on the achievements of last year’s impressive squad.
But third-year coach Sara Stone remains optimistic.
“Last year we graduated (nine) very talented seniors,” Stone said. “But I’m excited this year with the young talent.”
While DHS only began training sessions last Tuesday, Stone already knows at least a few of the Devils who she expects to make an impact this year — all of whom are returnees from the team that agonizingly lost the section championship match, 4-3, in penalties after a scoreless draw.
Junior defender Olivia Haass was the first player Stone mentioned, possibly alluding to a defense-first attitude.
Other standouts include the versatile sophomore Gaby Herrera, who was plagued with a shoulder injury last year on which she has since had surgery to repair the damage.
“Gaby Herrera is a dangerous player all over the field,” Stone told The Enterprise. “She will most likely be in the midfield as she has great vision and a dangerous shot.”
Quick and elusive junior Sophia Hernandez, athletic junior Renee Schuman and hard-working senior Brooke Palmer also are on the list of locals who Stone knows she can count on. The rest is anyone’s guess.
“We had an exceptional team on and off the field last year,” Stone said. “(There were) lots of leaders with great drive and maturity. I’m certain that there are players at all grade levels that will want to prove to me, themselves and the team that they can have these same qualities.”
Which Blue Devil players will step up isn’t the only mystery for DHS right now; Stone is so far unsure of what kind of system she wants the team to run. But that shouldn’t be a cause for Davis fans to worry:
“Last year, we made some changes to the system based on our players midway through the year,” Stone said. “While the system is important tactically; as a team my goal is to have all 11 players on the field dominate our opponent’s 11 players. So, at this point I’m not certain on the system (we want to play) but we anticipate lots of energy going to goal.
“At this point, I anticipate that we will have speed and players up top who will be dangerous going to goal,” Stone added. “I see us high-pressuring other teams starting with our front line, and forcing mistakes.”
So with all the uncertainty, what are Stone’s expectations for the season?
“My expectations are that the girls work hard, take on the challenges of a tough schedule, work to keep the tradition of the program, want to improve, and enjoy being on a team and representing their school,” Stone said. “I anticipate players rising to the occasion and not backing down.”
Notes: The Devils host Terra Linda for a Tuesday scrimmage at 5 p.m. before opening up with a weekend of games at the St. Mary’s Tournament beginning Friday, Feb. 28. … DHS will begin the defense of its DVC championship, and look to avenge its section title game loss, when Franklin comes to Yudin Field on March 24. … Speaking of Yudin Field, Stone is the daughter of longtime Blue Devil boys coach Ashley Yudin, who won six Sac-Joaquin Section championships for Davis before retiring before the 2012 season.
— Reach Evan Ream at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanReam