Pahrump Valley girls soccer coach Greg Leseberg entered his team in the Galena Invitational thinking it would be the perfect stage to prove his team belonged in Class 4A.
It will end up being the Trojans’ only games against 4A opponents this year.
Pahrump Valley found out in the middle of last season it would be rising from 3A to 4A this year based on enrollment. The Trojans, however, learned in May they will have to play a 3A schedule this fall.
The decision was a byproduct of a Title IX lawsuit brought by the father of a Green Valley player against the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, which wound up shelving the NIAA’s planned move of 4A girls soccer in Southern Nevada from winter to fall.
“We thought we were going to be playing in the 4A state tournament,” Leseberg said. “(The Galena Invitational) was going to be a preview and go up and shock a few teams. We’re not going to be a pushover on a 4A’s schedule. We don’t want to just compete. We want to contend.”
The Trojans will still get that chance this season, but only for a 3A state title.
“I’ve got mixed emotions with it,” Leseberg said. “We were expected to go to 4A and that lawsuit came out. It will give us an opportunity to possibly win league, or play in (3A) state championship games.”
Pahrump Valley’s shot at a 3A state title is a “one-year deal only,” NIAA assistant director Donnie Nelson said, because of the sudden change of plans.
“The reason they were granted that permission was they have always played girls soccer in the fall,” Nelson said. “(Class) 4A girls soccer is still a winter sport. It’s not fair to say to Pahrump Valley, ‘You now have to play soccer in the winter. Good luck.’”
Coming off an 8-2-3 season in which it reached the 3A Southern League finals, Pahrump Valley must replace league MVP Brittany Orr.
The Trojans return all but four players, though, and figure to have a strong defense keyed by senior Samantha Sposato and junior Taylor Raymer.
Other standouts, Leseberg said, could be sophomore midfielder Shelby Hughes and freshman forward Melissa Smith — a potential replacement for Orr.
“We’ll be real solid,” Leseberg said.
Still, the sudden denial of a fall 4A girls soccer season in Southern Nevada has left Pahrump Valley in a unique lurch.
“I’m totally against the winter (season),” Leseberg said. “For example, last year the state (title) game for 4A was postponed for extreme cold and wind. Everybody’s on board to go to the fall and unite the girls soccer for a state champion, which I feel is right.”
If nothing else, Pahrump Valley will help keep the quickly thinning 3A ranks afloat. There are only four 3A schools in Southern Nevada.
“The 3A coaches are happy we’re back this year,” Leseberg said. “We’re upbeat for our season.”