The Raiders finished 13-5-1 last year, but the number 5 might haunt them as more than the total of their losses in 2013 — they also allowed five goals to Dalton in the state championship.
Will that become a motivational tool this season? Southeast boys coach Kevin Kettenring hopes so.
“We’re not satisfied because we didn’t come home with the big prize,” Kettenring said. “We haven’t discussed the past or even the present. We’re trying to plug holes.”
The Raiders lost three all-area selections to graduation — midfielders Jorge Hurtado and Alex Rosillo and midfielder Jorge Hurtado — so now seniors Jamie Arenas, David Gonzalez and Jonathan Sanchez are being asked to fill their shoes. Kettenring said any of them could play midfield or striker after the team graduated “80 to 85 percent” of its offensive production.
Like Dalton and Northwest, Southeast will rely on experience on defense, including junior Isael Gutierrez, a returning all-area defender. Victor Garcia, a junior midfielder, has a ruptured appendix and may not be on the field until March. Abel Mendiola, a 2012 all-area selection, returns at goalkeeper for his senior year. Diego Nuñez is another senior defender.
“We have to emphasize our strength and we look to that experience as our strength,” Kettenring said. “On paper, these guys are our strength and have been through it.”
The Lady Raiders didn’t make the region tournament a year ago, and Mark Parsons replaces Amanda Ramfjord as head coach.
Parsons doesn’t have any soccer coaching experience but will receive help from assistant Victor Rodriguez, a former Raiders standout.
Andrea Lopez is back at striker for her senior season. Clarissa Martinez, a junior, could play a few spots in the midfield, while Sydney Covington, a sophomore sweeper, rounds out the three returning starters.
Despite the team being on the inexperienced side, its new coach believes he’ll enjoy building the program to his liking from the start.
“I prefer working with underclassmen,” Parsons said. “The ones we have coming up who are freshmen and sophomores are really talented. Our junior class will be really good this year.”
Melisa Fraire will be the Lady Raiders’ goalkeeper.
“She’s really stepped it up as a freshman,” Parsons said.
Maria Quijano, a junior, is another new face who could help Southeast. Parsons said Quijano could play a number of positions, including striker.
Southeast opens its season Tuesday at Gordon Central, with the girls playing at 5 and the boys at 7.