With 20 returning players from last season's squad, Delta High School boys soccer coach, Elaine Wood enters her 14th year with plenty of optimism. She will have Steve Hartman, in his fourth year, as an assistant and Raul Ortiz who will join the coaching staff for his first year of mentoring.
The Panthers were part of the 4A WSL which housed six teams. This year's schedule includes a lineup from both 4A and 3A schools, including Vail Mountain, Cortez, Palisade, Montrose, Roaring Fork, CRMS, Coal Ridge, Grand Valley, Moffat County, Basalt, Aspen and Caprock Academy.
The list of 20 returning players include seniors Scott DaCosta (midfielder), Isaac Fuller (midfielder), Colton Godwin (midfielder), Joseph Holiman (goal keeper), Luka Htoo (midfielder), Brendon Klaseen (midfielder) and Luis Meraz (forward).
Junior team member returning include Ian Downey (defender), Marcos Edmondson (midfielder), Brandon Harper (midfielder), Trey McGraw (midfielder), Danny Mendoza (forward), Jose Pontoja (midfielder), Anders Schopp (midfielder), Kacey Tsosie (midfielder) and Trevor Whiteside (goal keeper).
Sophomore players are Sergio Campos (defender), Will Ela (midfielder), Marvin Guereque (goal keeper) and Jason Holiman (defender).
Wood selected several players who she sees as potential impact players for the Panthers this season. Those players include Godwin, Downey, Fuller, Harper, Joe Holiman, Mendoza and Pontoja.
Wood was asked her thoughts on the team to beat this year. "Vail Mountain should be the top team in our league. They lost in the semifinals to Kent Denver who were the state champions."
With a diversified roster from Delta County schools, Wood stated her thoughts on how the season might play out. "We have 38 players out this year: 13 freshmen; five sophomores; 12 juniors and eight seniors. Even though the players come from all the different schools, they have come together and we anticipate a successful year."
Delta opened its season in Cortez on Aug. 27 and faced Montrose on Aug. 30.
In Cortez, Delta raced to an 8-0 victory, scoring four goals in each of the two halves played. Ten players figured in the scoring with either an assist or a goal. Players figuring in the scoring included Mendoza (one goal, one assist), Fuller (one assist), Montes (one goal), Godwin (one assist), Edmondson (one goal, one assist), Schopp (two goals and one assist), Corral (one goal, one assist), Pantoja (one assist), Klaseen (one goal) and Meraz (one goal, one assist).
According to Wood's notes, the Panthers had 18 shots on goal. Joe Holiman and Marvin Guereque played a half apiece with one save each.
"We possessed the ball, but most importantly, their defense was relentless. The opponent could hardly breathe or move as we were on them to steal the ball or apply pressure. The players were not afraid to shoot and from many different distances," stated Wood.
Tuesday's (Aug. 30) match with Montrose was, "As always it will be a tough game and a true test of our game," quoted Wood.
The Panthers are at Central on Sept. 1 for a 3:30 p.m. varsity contest, and Palisade comes to Delta's Cottonwood Field on Sept. 6 for a 4 p.m. game.