Desert Vista girls soccer coach Paul Manoogian was fed up and finally let his players know about it at the start of the Dobson Mustang Classic.

It is pretty clear he doesn't think the Thunder's effort is meeting their potential.

"We are acting like its predetermined (that they are going to be state contenders)," Manoogian said. "They act like they have already accomplished something and they haven't."

Desert Vista won 2-1 in the first game of the Dobson tournament, which ran through Thursday, against Mesa Mountain View on Monday to improve to 5-2-2, but Manoogian isn't seeing what he wants from the team.

Part of it is expectations that have followed the senior class, made up of 10 players, since making the Class 5A Division I finals as sophomores and the state semifinals last season, losing both times on penalty kicks.

"This is not a first- or second-round exit type team," Manoogian said. "We are a semifinal-talented team at the very least. I'm just not happy with the senior class actually. I had to say something. I talked to them before (Monday's) game about expectations. They are very high but they are not acting like it."

Katelyn Tupponce, a senior forward captain, has an idea of what her coach is feeling.

"We play well at times, but not for a full game," she said. "We have the potential to do better. During warm-ups we are talking about stuff that doesn't matter. We need to focus more and get it going from the start so it translates to the field."

Manoogian pointed to the win over the Toros as a prime example of some of the troubles.

The Thunder led 1-0 at the half, but could have led by more if it were more aggressive on free balls, but kind of coasted with the lead. Then after Mountain View tied it, the Thunder's offensive pace picked up.

It's like they coast and turn it on when they have to based on game situations.

"They are going through the motions and it is extremely frustrating," he said. "My assistants are ready to go through the roof. But what do you do? Do you bench them? But then the players you call on instead don't even have their shoes laced and are surprised you called on them."

Manoogian isn't sidestepping some of the blame. He fully admits he isn't a drill sergeant type of coach. Last week in practice the team played kickball and dodge ball more than anything else.

"I am not a task master," he said. "I am not one to run them into the ground or meet certain times on fitness tests to make the team. I've brought it up but they are going to have to start policing themselves. They have to work through this and get it right."

The Thunder have played a tough schedule - beating Mountain Pointe to open the season, but lost to Corona del Sol and then Chandler Hamilton in the Tempe Diablos tournament semifinals - and fared well but all involved believe there is another level out there waiting to be reached.

"I agree we are not playing to our potential and that we can play better," senior midfield captain Julie Waterhouse said. "We all need to step up and push each other. A lot of us have been playing together since we were 5 years old and we have to remember this is our last year together."

Maybe that is why there is a level of complacency among the seniors. They've been through this so many times before they can kind of get stuck in neutral. Something that might get them in trouble next month when region play becomes serious.

"When we are winning we kind of have a comfort zone and we might back off some, but we should be going hard all the time," said Tupponce, who is committed to play at New Mexico State. "If we all play together as a team we can go all the way. We've been to the semifinals and championship, but I want to win one."

To make sure the team starts playing at the level required to do so Manoogian plans on bringing a new intensity to practice after the team returns from New Year's Eve.

"January is a big month and there is time, but I can guarantee we will get more serious in practice when we come back from this tournament," he said. "We are too talented to keep playing like this."


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