Originally Published: August 28, 2017 6:04 a.m.
Chino Valley girls soccer
2016 Record: 11-0 (power-point matches)
2016 State Tournament: Won 2A state championship.
Coach: Allen Foster, sixth year
2017 Players to Watch: Returning first team All-State junior MF and captain Lauren Foster; returning first team All-State sophomore MF Ashley McGuffey; returning All-State senior D and captain Allie Nichols; senior F and captain Yeni Gomez; sophomore G Kacey Matthews (All-State F in 2016); freshman F Jesse Krogh; freshman S Joelle Krogh; freshman F Julie Elsea.
Date Opponent Time
8/29 Snowflake 4 p.m.
9/7 at Round Valley 2 p.m.
9/9 Blue Ridge 4 p.m.
9/12 Northland Prep! 4 p.m.
9/15 at Show L. Inv.^ TBA
9/19 Payson! 2 p.m.
9/21 at Page 3 p.m.
9/26 at Leading Edge! 4 p.m.
10/3 at Camp Verde! 3:30 p.m.
10/5 at Payson! 6 p.m.
10/12 Leading Edge! 4 p.m.
10/14 Page 5 p.m.
10/17 at North. Prep! 3:45 p.m.
10/19 Camp Verde! 6 p.m.
10/26 2A State Semis TBD
10/28 2A State Champ. TBD
All home matches at Chino Valley H.S. soccer field
! 2A Central Region match
^ at Show Low H.S.
What has winning a small-schools state championship for the first time in 2016 meant to Chino Valley girls’ soccer? Specifically, a title trophy has translated into a surge in interest from the community and a wave of confidence rippling through the program.
Just ask sixth-year Cougars coach Allen Foster, who transformed a doormat into a legitimate annual contender. Last fall, Chino Valley went unbeaten on the season with an impressive 20-0-1 overall record.
Chino Valley’s 30-player team kicks off the 2017 season with three of its first four matches at home against some of 2A’s toughest squads. The Cougars’ opener is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 29, versus Snowflake on their campus field behind the high school off North Highway 89.
“These girls are all quality Club players,” Foster said simply of his 2017 roster.
Despite losing leading goal scorer Katie Farnsworth, who finished with 40 goals last fall, to graduation, Foster has several returning weapons to compensate for her absence.
“Last year, the game plan was to feed Katie the ball,” Foster said straightforwardly. “Now we’re going to start spreading the wealth.”
Foster figures he has four or five girls who will “possess the ball a lot more” in his 4-4-2 alignment.
On offense, Chino Valley will turn to senior co-captain Yenifer Gomez, freshman Julz Elsea and freshman Jesse Krogh at forward. First team All-State pick Lauren Foster and sophomore Ashley McGuffy start at midfielder and will run the attack. Junior Serena Reed and 6-foot senior Felicity Stickrod play on the wings.
“We’re ready for anything coming our way,” said a grinning Gomez.
Defensively, All-State stopper Allie Nichols and sweeper Joelle Krogh lead the way. Junior Coury Hawks, sophomore Caro Gomez and senior Esperanza Soto are the outside backs, with gifted sophomore Kacey Matthews (5-6) at goalkeeper. Coach Foster moved Matthews from forward, a position at which she excelled last fall, to replace the graduated Giselle Chinchilla between the posts.
“If we work as a team, and we have the capability of doing that,” Matthews said, “look for an undefeated season again [from us].”
With a younger team this fall, coach Foster said he had his girls practice Mondays through Thursdays for two hours in the mornings over the summer. They focused on improving their speed, agility and strength. The Cougars also attended multiple camps, working with local teams as well as traditional small-schools’ powerhouse Blue Ridge.
“Our keeper, our midfield and our speed are our strengths,” coach Foster said. “The midfielders know how to pass and play together. They possess the ball really good and have experience.”
Coach Foster has a new coaching staff this fall. His assistants are D.J. Daniels and Liz King, and he’s thrilled to have them onboard. The coach is under no illusions about how difficult it will be to repeat as state champs. In fact, Foster’s players’ practice jerseys have bull’s eyes printed on the backs of them. Those targets act as a reminder that Chino Valley must put in the effort if it wants to succeed at the highest level.
“We should be at the top again [in the state],” coach Foster said of his Cougars. “Chino Valley, Blue Ridge, Northland Prep, Round Valley and Show Low are right up there. We’re excited to start a season on top.”
Follow Doug Cook on Twitter @dougout_dc. Reach him at 928-445-3333 ext. 2039, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.