After years of chasing the top three teams in the Moore League, Lakewood is comfortable with the underdog role. An experienced group of senior leaders are hoping to get the Lancers in the title chase once again. Lakewood hasn’t won a league title since sharing it with Poly in 2001.
“The seniors play a big part of the personality of this team and they’re more into it,” Lakewood fifth-year coach Luis Turcios said. “They’re more competitive and they bring an edge to the team and hold the first-year girls accountable.”
Turcios wants his team to play possession soccer with senior leaders Katie Burciaga, Lauren Augilar, Vicky Aguilar and Cassidy VanVleet playing up the middle.
Vicky Aguilar will hold the defense together at center back, and Laurin Aguilar will take her consistent play to the center midfield position. Laurin will play behind sophomore forward Malayah Nuestro, who is emerging as a young leader.
While Turcios looks for underclassmen to fill the outside positions, junior Jeissa Moran will hold down the attacking midfield spot.
Junior goalkeeper Kailey Miller has stepped up to take the starting position this year after winning the job in the spring.
Because of the extended construction on the new field turf playing surface at Lakewood, the Lancers have been forced to train at nearby Heartwell Park. They don’t know when they’ll be able to have home games, and could end up playing some games at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
That challenge is just another thing the Lancers and their small roster have had to overcome.
“It’s about fighting through adversity,” Turcios said. “We don’t have the roster that Wilson, Poly or Millikan have. We have 15 players on our roster. Hopefully we won’t have to fight through injuries like we did in the spring when we were playing with 11 sometimes. That helped build a little bit of a bond as we fought through it.”
The small roster faced Turcios to schedule a truncated non-league slate in order to keep his team healthy and ready for league and a possible CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoff run.
“I have to manage them as best as I can with recovery after games and taking care of our bodies to prevent injuries,” he added. “We’ve been doing a lot of strength and conditioning over the past few months so they’re in better shape than they’ve been before.”
Lakewood opens the league season against rival Millikan (Dec. 7).