Tigers coach Ernie Dempsey is confident his team will be able to score with regular frequency this season. With just 15 players on the roster, it’s the lack of depth that concerns him.
The Tigers return four starters from last year’s team, which went 8-9 in the program’s second season of competition. It was a considerable improvement over the 1-12 showing from 2012.
Dempsey expects a strong performance from his back line, and because of losses from graduation and transfers leaving, the coach may move junior keeper Eduardo Padilla — who earned honorable mention for all-area last season — out of goal. Oscar Reyes can fill Padilla’s shoes, Dempsey said, but Padilla could move back into the net if needed.
“It’s all fluid,” Dempsey said. “We’ll see what happens.”
Forwards who should make a big impact include Marco Espinosa, Elmer Hernandez, Jonathan Herrera and David Solis, a foursome that boasts speed and quickness, Dempsey said. Carlos Beltran will play center back and Gerardo Brita will play back wing. Others expected to contribute heavily include Mynor Bautista and Luis Perez.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised with our team so far,” Dempsey said. “If we can keep healthy, we’ll be all right.”
The Lady Tigers won just once in 18 games last year in their inaugural season, but coach Irene Quintero said her players gained confidence and valuable experience that will serve them well this spring.
“The big thing we saw happen last year was the growth the team showed from the start of last season to the end,” Quintero said. “The first game we lost 10-0. But on multiple occasions during the season, I had other coaches say ‘Your girls look like a whole different team.’ We can always show improvement. This year, a lot of our players are new.”
Itzel Moreno and Sabrina Sanchez could share time at goalie, and others could play there as well. Maudina Aguilar, Adriana Pena, Claudia Salaices, Samantha Trejo and Cindy Valdez are players Quintero said “aren’t afraid to give 100 percent” on defense.
Midfielders Liz Arezalos and Brianda Martinez, who may also play forward, should also be a factor. At forward, Quintero will look to Berenice Hernandez and Maria Sanchez for leadership.
“I think our biggest strength will be to use physical force,” Quintero said. “We’re building the players’ confidence.”
Morris Innovative opens it season Thursday against Bremen at Harmon Field, with the girls playing at 5 and the boys playing at 7.