Sports Stories

On paper, Sedona Red Rock High School’s girls soccer team looks the same as it did during the 2016 season: Young and small — in numbers as well as in stature.

But greater cohesion is what should make the difference.

“We always have great expectations for them. I think we have a small but experienced team and we have some additions that are going to fill up the spaces for us,” Scorpions head coach Juan Carlos Aguilar said. “We have a great group of young kids.”

Just three graduated from last year’s team, and there are only four seniors now, one of whom is new.

When asked about their final season, each of the returning 12th-graders was quick to blurt out some of the team’s biggest strengths.

“We have a small team but we’re all really close,” midfielder Alicia Pallares said.

“We’re really strong as a team. We might be small, but we’re strong together,” midfielder Marissa Pedroza said.

“A good amount of us have played now for over a year together, if not longer,” said goalkeeper Anya Kulinchencho-Braun, who is technically a junior but is on track to graduate early.

Last year’s defense was made up of all freshmen, the tallest standing at 5 feet 7 inches and the shortest at 4 feet 11 inches. That entire back line returns, which gave up 15 goals last year, but Aguilar pointed out that they are not like typical defenders: tall, big, strong.

“I have a good defense, an experienced defense, but at the same time we have to deal with the height of this defense,” Aguilar said. “We have the fastest, the shortest .... They never give up, they’re always up to any challenge in front of them. That’s what we like.”

In the attacking third of the field, there was, and still is, youth as well.

Despite all of that, having already shared the field for a season means that the group is well-acquainted. It will look to improve upon a 8-4-1 overall record, and 0-2 in 3A Region 1 play in 2016-17.

“Now we’ve all played together so we all know each others’ weaknesses and strengths,” Kulinchench-Braun said.

The three Scorpion seniors bring their experience to the most important areas of the field: The midfield and between the posts. Midfielders Pallares and Pedroza return as starters, whose veteran leadership and skill will be counted on to link the rest of the team together. Kulinchenco-Braun is one of the team’s two shotstoppers.

“They have the talent, they have everything in their hands. We as coaches, we’re going to exploit that from them so they can achieve better things this season,” Aguilar said. “That’s another big strength we have is in the midfield, where they recover and create opportunities for us.”

Sophomore Amari Sonn returns as a starting forward, plus the addition of five newcomers: Senior Veridianna Trinidad, junior Ana Stecklein, freshman Bella Horton, and sophomores Serra Kaseoru and Thania Arevalo.

2017-18 Roster



Alicia Pallares, midfielder
Marissa Pedroza, midfielder
Anya Kulinchenco-Braun, goalkeeper

Veridianna Trinidad

Brianna Tarazon, midfielder

Ana Stecklein

Amari Sonn, forward
Arianna Parra Landaverde, defender
Odalis Robles, defender
Claudia Corral, defender
Angela Betancourt, defender
Carolina Lopez-Villegas, goalkeeper/defender
Monserrah Arizmendi, defender

Thania Arevalo
Serra Kaseoru


Bella Horton

Both Pallares and Pedroza are counted on to connect the team on the field, but were confident in their ability to bring the newcomers to the squad together off of it, too.

“I’m really positive about everything and I try to get everyone motivated an laugh and be happy and actually be here to have fun,” Pallares said.

Still more than two weeks away from the first game, Aguilar said that setting goals is difficult. Two things so far have stood out to get in the way of the success.

There has been a lack of bodies at practice — as few as nine, he said.

“Always when we start the season, the first thing is to see what kinds of materials we have to work with. Whatever goals that we want to set, if we don’t have the numbers, it’s going to be hard for us to do that,” Aguilar said.
“Wherever they want to take us, we’ll go.”

The other is fitness, which has been the point of emphasis throughout early season training. Normally, the team works out during summer to stay fit, but admitted to lacking in that department this offseason.

It will be a big key to the team’s success, too, given its sparsely populated roster.

“We’re all really out of shape, and slowly we’re getting there, but hopefully by our game we’ll be more in shape and we’ll be there,” Pedroza said.

Scorpions 2017-18 Schedule

Nov. 28 to Dec. 2
Desert Cup Classic
@ Scottsdale Christian Academy and Reach 11 Sports Complex

Dec. 5, 2 p.m.
@ Wickenburg High School

Dec. 7, 4 p.m.
Home Debut
vs. Scottsdale Christian

Dec, 11, 4 p.m.
vs. Santa Cruz Valley High School

Dec. 14, 4 p.m.
@ NFL YET Academy

The team debuts at the Desert Cup Classic from Nov. 28 to Dec. 2 at Scottsdale Christian Academy and Reach 11 Sports Complex. It will play its first home game at 4 p.m., Dec. 7 against Scottsdale Christian.


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