The teams started training in the snow for a shortened season this week.
Jaime Gonzalez, the Ontario boys’ football coach. (The Enterprise / Joe Siess)
NYSSA – Prep Soccer is back in Nyssa and Ontario, but players from each school will enter the field in a different league classification and after a long delay from Covid.
The pandemic inspired the creation of a new regional league to replace the former Greater Oregon League and include Nyssa, Ontario, Baker, the Four Rivers Community School, La Grande, and Pendleton.
The football teams start the non-league season in the first week of March.
The Four Rivers Community School boys ‘soccer team will face La Grande while the girls’ team will play the Tigers at home on Tuesday March 2nd.
Ontario also begins its season on March 2nd. The boys will host Baker while the Lady Tigers will travel to Baker.
On Thursday March 4th, Nyssa opens his season against Baker. The Nyssa girls team will host Baker while the boys team will play in Baker City.
The regular season starts on March 10th.
There will be no playoffs this year.
The Oregon School Activities Association cited in an article, “Differences between team and individual sports, anticipated problems in establishing fair qualification procedures, district-enacted travel restrictions, collecting size restrictions based on capacity limits for county risk levels, and school-related implications Who Forms Regional Pods “Post-event announcement on February 18.
Plans for regional activities in the “peak week”, which could replace the playoff season, are still in the works.
In the meantime, each team will play eight games in a shortened season from early March to April 10th.
In Nyssa, boys coach Steven Escobedo said his team hoped to train on grass instead of tarmac as the winter snow melted. Now only six players are allowed to enter the gym at the same time. To keep the team together, they were forced outside despite the cold.
“Even though we are a young team, I am happy with our athleticism and I think that with some experience these kids will be pretty competitive,” said Escobedo.
Escobedo highlighted the talents of Javier Castro, a senior who plays forward / striker, and Elias Lazo, a second front player, as particularly promising, along with newcomer Anthony Erizmendi in midfield and Carlos Castro and Austin Baker on defense.
It’s been two years since the team made it into the postseason, Escobedo said. Last year Nyssa’s four losses were all for the two teams that eventually made it to the playoffs, Umatilla and Riverside. This year, Escobedo expects his team’s toughest opponents to be the ones they haven’t met before: La Grande and Ontario.
“Ontario is going to be very tough, they have stepped very deeply into the playoffs in the last few years,” said Escobedo.
Indeed, Ontario boys’ coach Jaime Gonzalez said his team had won the league for the past two seasons before losing to eventual national champions Woodburn in the playoffs. He also anticipated at least 10 senior citizens returning this year, with the caveat that attendance could decline due to students working during the pandemic as well as timing conflicts with club football in Idaho.
“We’ll just go along and roll with the punches,” he said. “Whatever comes up, we have to face it.”
Gonzalez said the large senior class returning to the football team were full of hitters.
“We have a strong team, I hope it goes well,” he said. “We just have to get in shape and hopefully prevent these injuries. It’s one of my biggest problems because we didn’t have a typical off-season. “
Gonzalez’s brother Javier, who coaches girls’ soccer in Ontario, raised similar concerns.
“The main thing is to get these girls back in shape,” he said. “That will definitely be shown in this first game of this first week.”
It is important to have effective conditioning, Gonzalez continued, “so that you can play for 90 minutes and minimize the risk of injury.”
Gonzalez has only coached the girls’ team for a year. Last season the team went to the playoffs and lost in the first round – a big improvement over the previous season when the Lady Tigers set a record of 1-12.
“These girls definitely built a lot of confidence,” said Gonzalez. “Your self-esteem was better.”
“We lost good seniors, but we have good classes with the returnees,” said Gonzalez.
The Ontario girls’ team is led by Captains Alondra Tenoco and Tiffany Nelson.
In Nyssa, the girls’ team under the direction of Carol Steinmetz is also in a growth phase.
Last year, said Steinmetz, the team was very young and didn’t make it into the postseason. That was because “the year before we went to the state (competition) and then we lost all these seniors. So last year we restarted, had a good time and learned a lot. They never gave up so it was fun. “
Steinmetz will again have a handful of newcomers on the team. She also has a strong group of returnees from last year including Kate Vineyard, a junior playing defense, Ashley Macedo, a senior and outside midfielder, Paola Trinidad, a senior and goalkeeper, and Marly Ausman, a junior and universal player.
Steinmetz raised similar concerns about the length of the season and the physical condition of their athletes.
“I think the shorter season will be difficult because we don’t have as many exercises and reps on the ball as you need. Once you play games, you really learn to play football, ”she said. However, she added, “It will be fine. All you have to do is dress warmly and get ready. We’ll just prepare for anything. “
News tip? Contact reporter Liliana Frankel at [email protected] or 267-981-5577.
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