By GANNON HANEVOLD
Moapa Valley Progress
Members of the Moapa Valley boys soccer program traveled with a club team last week to a preseason tournament in Cedar City, Utah. Despite a less than full team, Moapa left with a pretty successful weekend behind them.
New MVHS head soccer coach Randy Tobler brought a club team to the three-team tournament in Cedar City that featured a mixture of Varsity and JV players. It provided an opportunity for younger players like Tyler Hopkins, JC Solis, Radley Tobler, and Joey Bailey, among others, to fill important roles at a varsity level.
Meanwhile, veteran players like seniors Bryan Robles, Gabriel Hernandez, and Evan Conger got a chance to show leadership.
“It was important to see who would fit in what spots and positions and how they handle things,” Coach Tobler said. “I feel really good. I think we’ll face tougher competition in Vegas but we only had half of the Varsity that could’ve came so I still haven’t had everyone. But we did a lot better than I had thought.”
The first game came against the host team in Cedar. Tobler noted that the field size there was much bigger than the regulation field back home in Southern Nevada. He got a chance to look at which players were conditioned to face that sort of endurance obstacle.
“You could tell who had conditioned and who will push it,” he said.
In the first half, the Pirates appeared cold, allowing four goals early on and facing a deficit early into the game. But in the second half, Moapa got more comfortable and the players were able to stand their ground and allow for a draw in the second half. Though the final score would be 5-1, the team ended on a high note.
“That first half we really struggled but in the second half we played a lot harder,” Tobler said. “The field took a little getting used to.”
In the second game, the Pirates, led in the scoring department by sophomore Sebastean Gutierrez and senior Bryan Robles, looked strong. With Evan Conger anchoring the defense and Rylan Tobler impressing in the midfield, the Pirates appeared balanced and finished with a 3-1 victory against a club team from St. George. Brody Morgan impressed in goal as well with many saves to his credit.
Tobler also noted Zach Bailey and Fox Soderquist for having impressive performances.
In their third game, the Pirates got a rematch with the St. George team they had just beaten. The Pirates led from the beginning and controlled the pace of the game.
Holding on 2-1 towards the end, a penalty shot was called for and the game was tied on a penalty kick. The game would end in a 2-2 draw but, because of the win the day before, the Pirates headed to the tournament championship.
With fatigue weighing heavy, Moapa got another look at the team that defeated them the day earlier. The story was similar this time, as Cedar would win 5-1. However, considering how young the team from Moapa was and the amount of action seen, a second place finish came as exciting news to Coach Tobler.
“They looked good,” Tobler said. “I don’t think they’ve been to tournaments in a while so it was a good experience for them. I was really impressed with how the team meshed together and supported each other.”