At South River, Zamarripas are double whammy Soccer: Stopper Lorie, midfielder Nichoal are the foundation as the 10-2 Seahawks, last year's state co-champs in Class 2A-3A, build toward another run at the title

October 19, 1997|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

The Zamarripa family had some old home movies out the other day and Lorie couldn't help but laugh.

In the movies, she was 8 and her sister, Nichoal, was 7 as the two were getting their first taste of soccer for the Little Mayo Mustangs.

"Nichoal was horrible," Lorie said jokingly. "She was jumping around all over the place, looking like a ballerina."

Only an older sister can get away with a comment like that, though there's certainly no truth to it these days.

Together, the two are performing magic in the middle of the field for South River High School. Lorie is a senior stopper for the No. 8 Seahawks and Nichoal, a junior, is directly in front of her at center midfield. Both are team captains.

"They're the two most fundamentally sound players I've coached," said South River coach Will Pharr. "We like to attack from the back and Lorie anchors us defensively. She's very poised and keeps everyone settled.

"The offense centers around Nichoal. She's our playmaker and we run as many things through her as we can. Her knowledge of the game is her biggest asset and when you put that with her pace, she's a tough one to mark down."

A year and two months separate the two sisters, but Lorie insists the two are more like twins. On the soccer field, they show a natural connection that is tough to match.

One Zamarripa is tough enough to defend or get past, two is nearly impossible.

TC "We've been playing together since we first started," Lorie said. "Then when I was a freshman, I didn't want to come here without her. We always know what each other are thinking and that really helps."

The Seahawks (10-2) lost a good chunk of the offense that led them to a share of the Class 2A-3A state crown last season (they tied Liberty, 0-0, in the final), so Pharr has given Nichoal more freedom to push up and make things happen offensively. She's responded with nine goals and 10 assists. As a team, the Seahawks' offensive numbers are similar to last year's.

"We lost some scorers, so people are looking for me a lot more," Nichoal said. "I know the team needs me, so I'm working hard in practice and try to think about that more than myself."

What separates the Seahawks from a lot of other high school teams is their ability to work the ball out of the back with purpose. That's where Lorie's strong play comes in.

"She marks up so well," Nichoal said. "She just knows how to play defense and sees a lot of things. We both understand how we play and, when she gets me the ball, she expects me to do something good with it."

Nobody has had a better view of the Zamarripa connection than sweeper Eryn Belt, a third interchangeable part in the middle for South River.

"It's great. I'm so comfortable back there with them. I really don't have to do a whole lot," Belt said. "Lorie understands every aspect of the game so well. Sometimes, she knows what I'm going to do before I do. They're both so fast and get back so well, I know I can make a run and know someone will be back."

Ask the sisters what the differences are in their games and both say Nichoal is the more physical player, while Lorie, who originally played on attack, prefers to get past an opponent with finesse. Pharr agrees.

"With Nichoal, it's put your head down and lets go. Lorie is more finesse. Everything she does has an idea. When I moved her back to stopper at the beginning of last year, it was like night and day. We're much more fundamentally sound and organized," he said.

Both are strong on leadership and have an overwhelming desire to win. Both have played on the varsity since their freshman seasons. Lorie is in her second season as team captain, with Nichoal getting the nod this season.

Next year, it will be Nichoal's turn to take the soccer field without her big sister, who plans to continue playing at the college level, preferably somewhere south, with the intention of studying marine biology.

First things first, though, and that means another run at the state championship. The playoffs begin next week.

L "This time, we don't want the 'co-' in there," Nichoal said.

Pub Date: 10/19/97

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