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Young Lady Aztecs ready for season

BARSTOW • They’re a young team, but one their coach thinks will surprise some people this year.

The Barstow girls soccer team is on a mission to put the Desert Sky League on notice. The Lady Aztecs haven’t finished with a .500 record for several years, playing to a 5-10-2 record last year. There were five wins in the ‘10-11 season, but only one the next year.

That leaves lots of room for improvement, and new Barstow head coach Frank Maldonado is confident his squad can do so. Though he’s new to the head coaching position, Maldonado is certainly no stranger to the soccer program at the school. He was part of the boys program from 1986-2001, spending 11 of those years as head coach. He then took a break for a few years, and returned as a trainer for the girls JV and varsity teams, and last year was the JV head coach.

“I’ve seen this program go up and down,” said Maldonado this week. “I know most of the girls on this team from reffing in the rec league.”

So the Lady Aztecs are fortunate to have a first-year coach who comes in with a good amount of knowledge of Barstow soccer. This season will present a challenge, though, as the team lost many of its starters to graduation. There has been one game so far, a non-leaguer at Big Bear which Barstow won, 2-0.

“Eight freshmen started that game, including the goalie,” said coach Maldonado. “I have only two returnees. This team is young and inexperienced, but with a lot of talent, skill and speed.”

Two juniors scored the goals against Big Bear, Lexyss Aviles and Nayeli Zapata. They join fellow 11th-graders Sinfora Sedillo, Marissa Ceballos, and Jennifer Perez on the roster. There are two Lady Aztec sophomores, Alysia Sanchez and Marsia Keeton, and two seniors, Kortnee Brown and Jasmine Ceballos. The balance of the roster is all freshmen: Autianya Leatham, Angelique Leatham, Aubre Baker, Alyssa Sanchez, Biance Berry, Anna Alvarado, Hannah Ramirez, and Yessica Morales. Morales and Perez will serve as goalies.

It’s a good time for revitalization, as the girls soccer program is currently a healthy one.

“We had 53 girls try out,” said Maldonado. “That’s the most in many, many years. Getting a team together and making the cuts was hard.”

As for how his team will do in the DSL, Maldonado has been focusing more on the JV side of things for the past couple of years. He knows the general landscape of the league, however, and who is favored to win. Granite Hills has been the league champ every year since the ‘08-09 season, and obviously is the team to gun for.

“Granite is the powerhouse, they’re the team to beat,” said coach Maldonado. “But I think with the talent we have, we have a shot to beat them. This might be a rebuilding year, but I think we’ll turn some heads, and next year, do some damage.”

The Lady Aztecs will be at Burroughs on Dec. 12, and will take part in the Oak Hills Tournament, starting Dec. 14. They won’t play at home until Jan. 7, when they host Silverado.

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