Photos by Nicholas Mattson/Paso Robles Press
Paso Robles High School senior Yahaira Garcia, right, controls the possession during a 2015-16 game at War Memorial Stadium. Garcia finishes her senior season with high goals as a captain. Senior Madison Mitchell attacks the ball against Atascadero during her junior season.
Paso Robles looks to storm back after big losing season last year
Coming off a season where wins were few and far between, the Paso Robles High School varsity girls soccer team has already tied its PAC 8 League win total with one win. The Bearcats defeated the St. Joseph Knights on the road in Santa Maria on Tuesday for the PAC 8 League opener by a score of 2-1.
Because the Garces Memorial tournament was canceled, it was the first game for the Bearcats since Dec. 8, and they took a few minutes to get their head in the game.
“30 seconds after kickoff, we conceded a goal to St. Joe,” PRHS head coach Dillon Simoulis said. “Our girls bounced back [before halftime] and put two in the goal to take the lead.”
Looking at the season, Simoulis has a large selection of quality players to choose from, and his starting lineup may change from game to game.
“We have a core group we look at for starting but we look at the matchup,” Simoulis said. “We have a pretty deep bench.”
The deep bench is also laden with underclassmen. As Simoulis takes on his role as the girls head coach in his first year, he looks down the line and set a lofty long-term goal.
“It is a pretty young team, we have eight seniors, six juniors, and 11 sophomores,” Simoulis. “We have been restructuring things, and our goal is to become league champions in three years.”
Going from a single win, to league champs is something the head coach proposed is a realistic outlook. With new support for his role as Director of Soccer for the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District, Simoulis has strong support to build a culture of success within the program.
“PRJUSD Athletic Director Rich Clayton and PRHS Athletic Director Anthony Morales have a great vision of what they want it to be and support us in what we need to be successful. They are supporting us to execute it, and they expect us to do so,” Simoulis explained.
With a strong group of senior leaders, who carry their own high expectations, the Bearcats have a few young players that look to make a difference.
“The sophomores have had a huge impact,” Simoulis said, “and it has really stepped up our program. Our main center back, sophomore Torri Pugh, and sophomore Madison Wineman are the main center backs holding the defense down.”
Simoulis also noted senior captains Yahaira Garcia and Syndie Esser as those impact players with leadership.
Those leaders one-upped the coach when it came to goal-setting.
“Initially, that our league record last year was one win, we wanted to get better than that,” Simoulis said. “We had a goal of being better than .500, but our seniors set it a little higher, looking to qualify for a CIF spot.”
Along the way, with the help of Clayton and Morales, Simoulis is working to strengthen the culture in his sport.
For me, the most important thing is team building and mutual respect between the players,” Simoulis said. “The respect off the field really translates on the field.”
Being some of the girls’ third coach in as many years, he also takes responsibility to look at things both ways, looking to build their trust in him quickly.
“I want them to trust me just as much as I want them to trust each other,” Simoulis said.
Their bond will be tested tonight, when they face the defending league champion San Luis Obispo on the road in potential rain.
The Bearcats (1-0 PAC 8, 7-1-1 overall) take the field at 6 p.m. against the Tigers at SLOHS stadium.
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