A shorter, COVID-delayed season is underway for Northwest Valley high schools. Here are previews, with boys coaches’ comments, for teams that responded to our questions:
5A Desert West Region
2019-20 Record: 1-14 overall, 0-5 region
Coach: Chris Gianandrea (Second year as head coach)
How many years have you coached soccer? At your current school? I have been coaching for eight years now. This is my second year at Millennium
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Experience and team chemistry. Lots of returning players and several of them play all year round together due to club.
What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? Making sure we play our style of soccer and don't get caught up worrying about the other team.
Who are your team leaders? Harrison Rice - senior captain and holding midfielder. Timmy Gray - senior captain and winger/striker. John Stull - junior captain and centerback/fullback
Who are the newcomers to varsity that can make the biggest impact Quinn Serviss - sophomore fullback and Jacob Dillion - freshman midfielder.
What are some of the more anticipated games on your schedule? . I would say all of our region games, simply because of the way this season is. Typically you play half a dozen games before region, but with everything getting pushed back we don't have much time to prepare and get ready for the region games, so it will be interesting for everyone in the region playing very meaningful games so early on.
4A Southwest Region
2019-20 Record: 3-13, 2-4 region
Coach: Marcia Johnson (first year as PHHS coach)
Top returnee: D Dakota Jones, Sr. (2 goals)
How many years have you coached soccer? I have been coaching in the Paradise Honors program for three years. The first year was the middle school boys soccer team and last year I was the first boys JV team for the high school. This year I am the varsity head coach for the boys program.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Going into this season and moving up to 4A is exciting for our program. Due to COVID-19, we have lost quite a few players and were only able to roster a varsity team. This is a young team and we have the time to grow as we continue to develop our players. Our biggest strength will be our defensive line.
What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? Our team needs to focus on becoming a team and not a group of individuals. We also need to increase our speed of play. Overall, our team has some talent, but only a handful of players play at a competitive club level.
Who are your team leaders? Our team captains this year are senior Dakota Jones and junior Noah Fuller.
Who are the newcomers to varsity boys soccer that can make the biggest impact? We have a couple of newcomers that I expect to make an impact on varsity and are up-and-comers. The first is sophomore Gavin Wajtkowski. Gavin is a center back whose speed is unmatched, and he continually comes out of nowhere to stop an attacking play. Junior Gabe Frazier is on defense and has such a competitive drive and speed that is surprising to most. This is his first year on varsity and we expect great things from him. Sophomore Mark Johnson is new to varsity and is also being moved from center back to center midfield. While this is not his normal position, he has stepped up and we look forward to his ability to have many shots on goal as that has been a hidden talent we have discovered.
What are some of the more anticipated games on your schedule? We are looking forward to our matches against Dysart and Peoria. We are a new team in 4A, so we will have to see when we find our groove.
6A Southwest Region
2019-20 Record: 2-14-1, 0-4-1 region
Coach: Andrew Engwall (second year as SRHS coach)
Top returnees: MF Gabriel Engwall, Jr. (1 goal, 1 assist)
How many years have you coached soccer? This is my 10th year coaching soccer, second year at the current school.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Team has a strong will to compete.
What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? The team needs to be disciplined and organized when the opponent has possession, and we need to be more of a threat when we have possession.
Who are your team leaders? Ethan Vannucci, Sean Enouen, Joel Newlin and Jacob Lafferty are four seniors that will wear the captains armbands. Leaders in terms of goal scorers and difference makers: Jimmy Chinchilla, Yahir Ortega and Gabriel Engwall.
Who are the newcomers to varsity that can make the biggest impact? Several sophomores, and perhaps a freshman or two, will play important roles in our varsity squad this season: Aidan Murray, Dominic Calandra, Ethan Clark, Caden Bott and Madden Bredek.
What are some of the more anticipated games on your schedule? The coaches and boys, frankly everyone, are anticipating the first match versus Skyline; everyone is anxious to see what happens when we kick off. We want to play well, but in the sense that they played well, we mean, confidently. The coaches and I try to ask simple questions each training session in order to anticipate tomorrow: Did we compete? Did we move into space when space was there? We always like to see how we measure up against the powerhouse soccer schools, like Cibola and Tolleson because it’s our ultimate goal to build a soccer program level with these; our regional matches versus Sunnyslope and Valley are also important matches for us.