Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
North Medford has hired a new boys and girls varsity soccer coach.
Emily Miller replaces Rich Garcia as the girls coach, while Michael Belzberg takes over for Dan Torrey.
Both Garcia and Torrey resigned their coaching positions.
The 32-year-old Miller has been an assistant coach under Garcia the last three years. The former Hidden Valley standout, who was a four-year varsity starter and all-conference selection her sophomore, junior and senior seasons, went on to play at College of the Siskiyous, where she was named to the all-conference team. Miller then transferred to Brenau University in Gainesville, Ga., where she was named all-conference and earned a psychology degree in 2004.
During Miller's three years as a Black Tornado assistant, the program went 31-12-3 with two league championships.
Garcia took over for Lu Crenshaw after the 2008 season. He may coach the junior varsity program next year, Miller said.
"(Garcia) had a lot of experience," Miller said. "It was great being underneath him and learning from him."
Miller will be assisted by Rianna Mansfield, a former University of Oregon forward and Southern Oregon University assistant. Frank Silva will work as the goalkeepers coach.
"I hope to pass on the passion and love for the game," Miller said. "I'm excited to have Rianna joining us because I think it'll be nice for the girls to have some female role models, especially athletes. It is positive for them to see and ask questions of women who have gone on and played at the college level."
Last season, the North girls finished 13-1-2 and 6-0-2 in the Southern Oregon Hybrid while being led by senior Sarah Chambers, who will play at Brigham Young University next season. The squad lost to Southridge 2-1 in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs.
Belzberg was the starting goalkeeper for the 2003 South Medford squad that won a state championship. He went on to play at Linfield College and graduated with an art history degree in 2009. Last year, Belzberg completed a Masters teaching program at Concordia University and worked as an assistant for the St. Mary's boys soccer team.
"We have a good group of guys," said Belzberg, a 25-year-old substitute teacher. "I won't be able to work with them until preseason camp, but it sounds like we have a great team."
Local Panther fans have fond memories of the 2003 squad, which beat Redmond 1-0 in the 4A championship when Spencer Hunter scored in the 93rd minute.
"I am a very defensive-minded coach because I played goalkeeper," Belzberg said. "I like to be aggressive on the pitch, moving on the ball and playing with speed."
The North boys went 10-5 overall and 5-3 in the SOH last season. The team lost to Westview 8-0 in the second round of the 6A state playoffs. The squad was led by senior forward Jesus Solorio, the conference player of the year who finished with 18 goals and 11 assists to lead the team.
Torrey was a 2002 North Medford graduate and coached the Tornado in 2010 (the team went 7-5-2 that year) and 2011. Busy with work and school, he'll work as Belzberg's assistant in the fall.
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email firstname.lastname@example.org