Scorpions targeted on creating younger soccer workforce
While high school teams are young by definition, the girls’ soccer team that will take the field for Sedona Red Rock High School this fall is especially young.
Eight of the girls from last year’s team have graduated. This year’s team consists of just two seniors – Bella Horton and Hannah Simpson – and two juniors – Mikaela Aguilar and Tanya Valenzuela. The rest of the team consists of seven sophomores and two freshmen. While the Scorpions hope to win games, they also hope this season will go a long way towards developing a core group of players for the next two to three years.
“It’s a process of rebuilding,” said coach Juan Carlos Aguilar. “We’re trying to get them down physically and see if they play the tactical role so they can play well. Basically, they learn. I don’t have any newbies to play AYSO [American Youth Soccer Organization] or any other competitive football. We just hope for a good season in warmer weather. “
“We have some new girls so it’s a fresh start,” added the second Mayra Parra-Landaverde. “We try to see the best in it and practice a lot. We’re trying to get everyone in shape and better than at the beginning of the season. “
While the Scorpios have many new faces, they are not lacking in returning talent. Mayra Parra-Landaverde was the SRRHS top scorer as a freshman a season ago, while her younger aunt, sophomore Alma Landaverde, will occupy midfield with Mikaela Aguilar. While she played basketball instead of soccer last year, Kassandra Lopez is a seasoned player. Joining the soccer team is one of the benefits of SRRHS Moving Soccer Out of Winter.
In addition, both Simpson and Horton are veterans of the program. In the case of Horton, however, it will be in a whole new place. After playing mainly as a midfielder for the first three years, Horton is considered the Scorpions’ starting goalkeeper, replacing Carolina Lopez, the longtime starter who graduated in the spring.
While a team with many new faces always brings with it some challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic has created an additional hurdle. The Scorpions had little summer practice before closing in June for the second spike.
“It was a little difficult because most of us are out of shape and haven’t trained much over the summer,” said Mikaela Aguilar. “In the first few weeks it was difficult to get involved. It’s still a challenge. I think in time, more practice will help everyone. “
The pandemic makes the schedule a little tentative. Assuming the current schedule is adhered to, the Scorpions will play Payson at home on Thursday, September 17th at 4pm. Another benefit of the fall change is that Sedona and Camp Verde can renew their rivalry on the field. The Scorpions and Cowboys will play twice this season, Tuesday September 29th at Camp Verde and Thursday October 8th in Sedona. Both games start at 6 p.m.
The Scorpions were relieved to find out it was the fall season. As a senior leader on the team, Simpson hopes to use this year to help the younger players develop the same love for the game that she has.
“I love football and it’s a wonderful stress reliever,” said Simpson. “It’s really great to be able to help some of the younger girls fall in love with the sport. I’m very glad about that. “