Placer varsity girls soccer team full of freshmen

Coach expects youthful team to be competitive
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Steve Cook acknowledges it’s a first in his career.

The longtime Placer High girls soccer coach is carrying eight freshmen on his 2013 Lady Hillmen roster. Nonetheless, he still believes he has a competitive, talented squad that could make a run for a playoff spot later this season.

“They have great attitudes and great tempo,” Cook said of the younger girls on his team. “They’re totally dedicated and play club soccer. Some of them have personal trainers. They work real hard and they’ve earned their spots.”

Placer, which went 8-9-2 last season, also has some key returnees to fortify its lineup.

Last year’s leading scorer, Sabrina Viscuso, has already scored two goals for Placer, which started the season by going 1-3 at a late February tournament in Woodland.

Viscuso tallied four of the Lady Hillmen’s 18 goals last season.

The team scored a 5-2 victory over Lincoln at the tourney, but was shut out in two losses to Benicia and one against Vintage of Napa.

Freshmen Samantha Slade and Cassidy Noder also scored against Lincoln, with Slade finding the back of the net twice.

The Lady Hillmen, who have allowed seven goals this season, consider one of their top strengths to be defense.

“I think our defense will be crazy good this year,” said senior and second-year varsity forward Cameron Rohde. “… We’re physical and nobody is really afraid to push anybody around to get the ball.”

The unit figures to be strong behind the play of junior Brittany Bartle, senior Alex Lee and freshman Natalie Rowland.

“I think we have a lot of potential,” said Lee, a second-year varsity player. “Especially since the young players are good. The older players’ experience should be able to help them out.”

Cook is still sorting out his goalkeeping situation. Sophomore Kyra Hostetler is currently the starter, but last year’s keeper Jenelle Pickard, a senior coming off a broken hand last season, could be the eventual go-to goalie. 

“We’ll figure it out as the preseason progresses,” Cook said. “I don’t plan on rotating the keepers. We’ll see what happens.”

The Lady Hillmen return to the pitch Monday, when they travel to Lodi for a 3:15 p.m. match. Their home opener is on March 13 against Whitney at Railhead Park.

Pioneer Valley League season starts on April 1 when Foothill comes to Auburn. Placer was 3-5-2 in the PVL in 2012, good for fourth place in the league standings behind first-place Colfax (8-0-2).

Despite Placer’s youth, Cook thinks this year’s team is fairly well-rounded.

“Probably the most athletic team I’ve had top to bottom,” he said. “They have good individual skills.”

Reach Matthew Kimel at Follow him on Twitter@matthewkimel