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Elko boys soccer team ‘young, really talented’
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Elko boys soccer team ‘young, really talented’

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ELKO — Entering the shortened “fall” season, Elko will be without a number of what should have been returning players but the Indians managed to be one of just two teams in the league who will field both junior varsity and varsity programs — the incoming group offering lots of potential.

“I think everything happened so quick that the players didn’t find out until the last minute, and we had some kids who are not eligible,” said Elko head coach Alonso Lujan. “We had some low numbers on the varsity, but I can move up JV players at any time to keep everyone motivated. We have a young team, but they’re really talented.”

In 2019, the Indians finished the season with a winning record of 9-7-5 and went 7-6-5 in the Division 3A North but failed to make the playoffs.

The junior varsity will only play two games this season, facing Fernley — the only other team in the Division 3A North-East to field a JV squad.

Lujan said he hopes the numbers will increase once the sports resumes its regular fall format but he added that if it does not, he’ll “have more time for individual work with the kids.”

The Indians will only field two seniors, Jose Ventura and Stephen Hutnyak.

As a junior, Ventura was an honorable mention for the league awards and should prove to be one of Elko’s offensive weapons in his final season.

Last season, he finished second on the roster in scoring — scoring four goals and dishing two assists.

“Jose is so fast. I could play him at forward, but it may be better to use him at a wing,” Lujan said.

Hutnyak came off the bench as a junior, Luan saying he will likely play on the right wing.

The vast majority of Elko’s returners are now juniors, making up 12 of the players in the program.

Elko will benefit greatly from the goaltending services of Eric Azcue, who tallied 66 saves as a sophomore and pitched four shutouts.

“The quarantine actually may have done him some good. He was in the gym all the time and bulked up. He looks good,” said Lujan.

Freddy Cervantes — after already playing on varsity for two years — will be an attacking midfielder.

“He’s strong and tough, and has one of the hardest shots of anyone on the team,” Lujan said. “He can kick from long distance and has great control. It’s hard to get the ball from him.”

Depending on who Elko plays will dictate the role of Marquos Meza.

“He’s more physical, he can go through contact to score or pass,” Lujan said. “He’s like a bull. He can go right through three guys.”

Lujan also expects contributions offensively from sophomore Austin Weight, who can play in the midfield, at forward or on the wing.

Defensively, the returns of Miguel Abarca (center back) and junior sweeper Manuel Cortez may pay immediate dividends for denying opposing shots.

“Miguel played as a freshman. Given his talent and his position, he’ll probably play more minutes than anyone,” Lujan said.

Lujan will do something new with Spenser Jones, moving him to the right fullback on the defensive side of the ball.

Of the newcomers Lujan is excited to see play for the first time in competitive action, he is especially optimistic about both the potential and current skills of Marcos Carlos.

“He’s already a true 9 (striker). He can penetrate, dribble and shoot,” Lujan said. “My freshmen are amazing. Most of them already have size; as big as or bigger than the older kids on the team. It’s going to be a really good generation. I’m excited about the future.”

Nicolas Avila should prove to be a ninth-grader that can step in and make plays early on.

“He’s a true 10 (attacking midfielder). He has really good shots, vision and control,” Lujan said. “He’s not fully grown yet, but he can run for days and can keep up with anybody. He’s like Natu (Meles) was at that age but he’s faster than Natu.”

Key Losses

Elko graduated 1st-Team All-State forward Natu Meles.

In his last season with the Indians, he tied for third in the league with 20 goals.

Meles ranked fourth in the 3A North with 43 points, adding three assists.

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His biggest output came in a four-goal haul against Spring Creek on Sept. 27, 2019, at Adobe Middle School, in a 5-0 victory for the Indians.

Meles added two hat tricks, the first against Incline — the second coming on Elko’s senior day in a 4-2 victory over Lowry.

The Indians also sent off honorable mention and fierce defender Noe Guzman.

Guzman not only stopped opponents from getting of taking clean shots, he also possessed the ability to swap field position and make overlapping runs of the offensive side of midfield.

However, with the outcome well at hand on Oct. 4, 2019, in a 7-0 home win over Incline — Guzman cashed his lone goal of the season.

After a foul occurred inside the box, Guzman stepped to the stripe and drove a low-line drive into the net on a penalty kick.

Graduated honorable-mention defender Adrian Rodriguez saw his workload increase dramatically during his final season in maroon and white.

Toward the end of the season, he too became a viable option to turn defense into an offensive attack.

Notably, Rodriguez came extremely close to scoring his lone goal of the season in a 3-0 home victory over Fallon on Oct. 25, 2019, sending multiple kicks mere inches over the crossbar and left corner of the frame.

The graduation of Meles stung, but the Indians also lost his little brother, Hermon Meles, even though he was only a freshman in 2019 — scoring a goal for the varsity team.

“They moved to California. Hermon was going to be really good. At that stage, he was better than Natu was at the same age,” Lujan said.

Elko also graduated Julian Gonzalez (four goals), Gustavo Cortez (three goals, assist), Raul Cortes (two goals), Cristian Perez (two goals) and reliable defender Lupe Flores.

Looking Forward

“This season is basically a warmup for the fall. We only play for six weeks, but in five more months we should be at it again,” said Lujan. “I’m glad the kids get to play. It keeps them interested in school as well. Sports play an important part of that, too.”

Schedule

The Indians will open the season at home, facing Fallon at 2 p.m. Friday, March 5, at Adobe Middle School.

Elko will travel over the summit for its second contest, taking on the Spartans at 11:45 a.m. Saturday, March 6, in Spring Creek.

GALLERY: 2019 ELKO INDIANS SOCCER HIGHLIGHTS

2020-21 Elko Indians Soccer Schedule

Date Opponent Time

March 5 Fallon 2 p.m.

March 6 @ Spring Creek 11:45 a.m.

March 10 @ Fernley 2 p.m.

March 13 Lowry 11:45 a.m.

March 19 Dayton 2 p.m.

March 20 @ Fallon 11:45 a.m.

March 26 Spring Creek 2 p.m.

March 27 Fernley 11:45 a.m.

March 31 @ Lowry 2 p.m.

April 3 @ Dayton 11:45 a.m.

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Related to this story

The Elko and Spring Creek boys soccer teams will not play in the regional tournament but — despite no playoff appearances — the regular season ended with some fireworks, a far cry from a 5-0 victory for the Indians in the first meeting of the year.

With one game remaining in the regular season, the Elko boys soccer team has given itself a chance to play in the postseason. The Indians opened a 3-0 lead in the first half and beat the team ahead of them in the 3A North standings, ripping off a 4-2 victory Tuesday over Lowry.

Shorthanded, the Elko boys soccer team kept its postseason hopes alive Saturday with a key tie following a blowout loss. The Indians will face another set of road tests as they search for a return to the playoffs.

The Elko boys soccer team finished the first half of the 3A North season on a two-game winning streak with a 5-0 shutout of Spring Creek on the heels of a four-goal haul by Netu Meles, the Indians currently in sixth place of the league standings and the Spartans in a tie for seventh and eighth. 

The Elko boys soccer team may have saved its season Tuesday. Entering their road match against Lowry with just one win in league play, the Indians took down the No. 3 Buckaroos by a final score of 2-1. To close the first half of the 3A North season, the Indians will host Spring Creek in a vital game for each squad at 5 p.m. Friday, at Adobe Middle School. 

The No. 1 Indians (10-0) will look to send their seniors off victorious, end the season undefeated, win the 3A North-East regional title and build on what should be a very-talented group of underclassmen versus No. 2 Lowry (7-3) at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, at Adobe Middle School.

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