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Coyote soccer coach expects to win

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A Roswell goalie goes through a drill with his coach as he gets ready for Deming on Friday. (J.T. Keith Photo)

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It doesn’t take long to name the dean of successful boys soccer coaches in New Mexico.

Roswell’s coach James Vernon is in the top 10 in all categories. He is Roswell’s all-time winningest soccer coach in the program’s history. With a state title in 2013, and over 225 wins, 78 losses and two ties on his resume, his teams have made the playoffs every year except 2005. Vernon feels like they should have won another four or five Blue Trophies with the talent they’ve had.

Vernon still has the hunger to garner another title to his resume, and he lets his players know that is the standard for Roswell soccer. In fact, he’s smarting that they have to play a first-round game when they are normally good enough to get a bye in the first round.

To advance to Albuquerque next Thursday and face Los Alamos, Roswell will have to get past a Deming team that has won four games this season. The two teams have not met this season, but the Wildcats upset Artesia, keeping them out of the playoffs this year.

“We should expect to win,” Vernon said. “If we get beat, it’s our own fault. We’re a No. 5 seed playing a No. 12 seed. I expect to win on Friday, and if we get beat, guys aren’t focused or ready to play. Deming is going to come ready to play because they have nothing to lose, but we have everything to get through it to get to the quarterfinals.”

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Vernon is excited with his team and how they have improved this year. With six seniors on the squad, the Coyotes will play a lot of sophomores. One of the concerns for Vernon is how their goalies will match up during the pressure of the playoffs with the one-and-done tournament format. He also is hoping that the strength of the team, their midfielders, will play well.

Starting in the goalie for the Coyotes is Adrian Villa Parra who has been with the team for four years.

“When I first moved here and took the job in 2003, the main thing I wanted for our team was respect,” Vernon said. “Me and my assistants, coach Peter Stover, and Levi Hobson. We played at Roswell in 89-92. When we played, we played the kick-and-run type of soccer.”

Vernon played at Oklahoma Christian University, and used the system he used in college for a while to get Roswell competitive. That system was man-to-man, it was good enough for the regular season and to make it to the playoffs, but they would end up losing. Vernon feels like his program turned around when he went to a clinic, and one of his former players gave lecture was on zonal defending, which is a flat back four system, which means there are four defenders in the back. Roswell will play a 4-3-2-1 system.

“I like to play the teams from up north early in the season,” Vernon said. “We never get to face those teams unless we see them in the playoffs. In a three-week span, we played 14 games, that’s a lot of soccer.”

Look for Roswell to try and pressure teams into mistakes and play uptempo and keep the ball on the opponent’s side of the field.

“I think we win on Friday if we come out and play like we know how to,” Vernon said. “I know that Deming is going to try and throw a defense down and hunker in the goal, and try and defend us and defend us until they can get a free kick or something. We just have to come play and pass the ball and finish.”

Roswell lost 13 seniors last year, and stand a game away from being in the quarterfinals.

If Roswell wins on Friday, they will play No. 4 seed Los Alamos in the quarterfinals at Albuquerque at 1 p.m.