The Del Norte High boys and girls soccer teams entered the fall season looking to advance as programs.
Mission accomplished for the girls, who improved upon their win total from 2011 with a 3-11-2 record (0-8 Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 League). The Warriors were more competitive from the starts of games till their ends, and more consistent over the course of the season, than they had been in 2011.
The Del Norte boys had hoped to become more competitive within the HDN Big 5 League. While the Warriors made strides, they ultimately finished with a 1-6-1 HDN Big 5 League record (5-6-1 overall).
The Del Norte girls awarded White Star honors to senior forward Wendy Morales, the team's leading scorer with seven goals on the year. Morales had not played for the Warriors in her first three years but found high school soccer to her liking in her senior season.
"I do regret not playing my first three years," Morales said. "But I'm definitely happy. I feel like the team was strong. I wouldn't change the team for anything."
Though the record indicated a trying season for Del Norte girls soccer, particularly in league play, "we didn't let our heads down or anything," Morales said.
"In league, we were doing good. (I was) noticing that we could hold them down (on defense)."
White Star honors for the Del Norte boys went to defender Lane Japp. The award came as an unexpected surprise to the senior, playing a position unlikely to accumulate notable statistics. One of his most memorable games was at South Fork on Oct. 13, when Japp said he made seven legal slide tackles and played aggressively.
"I'm still in shock," Japp said after the banquet. "I didn't expect that."
Injuries contributed significantly to Del Norte's malaise, as seniors Juan Chavez (a 2011 White Star), Carlo Soldaini and Tanner Walker, all starting players, missed significant time. Chavez, who injured his right knee early in the season, eventually switched from forward to goalkeeper; the Warriors' starting goalkeeper, Brandon Bloyd, moved into the midfield to replace Soldaini.
However, team members admit that Del Norte did not play up to its full potential in every contest this season.
"This was our most competitive year," he said. "I guess we weren't really ready (to take another step). After the first game we lost, we started to get a little sloppy."
Freshman defender Maddie Critz earned Rookie of the Year honors for the Del Norte girls, and sophomore defender Hannah Pickerill was named Most Improved.Senior Fernanda Herrera, juniors Deleana Saylor and Kira Standring and sophomore Bina Gonzalez were anointed HDN honorable mentions.
The girls' academic achievements were also recognized, as Pickerill, Critz, Gonzalez, Standring, juniors Hailey Hulse, Christina Levy,and Ali Olson and sophomore Karina Moseley also earned scholastic athlete honors.
For the boys, sophomore Samuel Aragones, Bloyd and Soldaini received scholastic athlete honors.
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