The Steve Paylor era at Virgin Valley High School will officially kick off Thursday when the boys’ soccer team hosts Pahrump Valley in the season opener at 5:30 p.m. at the Mesquite Sports and Events Complex.

The contest marks the debut of Paylor as coach of the boys’ soccer program at Virgin Valley.

The Soccer Dogs are coming off a 3-13-1 overall campaign a year ago that saw them finish fourth in the Sunrise League at 3-6-1. Virgin Valley earned a berth in the South 3A Regional, where it was eliminated by Sunrise Mountain, 7-0, in the first round.

Six players return from last year’s squad – five seniors and one junior.

Mid-fielders Jaiden Juan and Jose Flores; forward Miguel Escobedo, defender Jesus Navarro and goalkeeper Hayden Johnson are the five seniors along with junior forward Christian Martinez.

“The boys have improved since the beginning of summer,” Paylor said. “They’ve started to grasp the concept of how I want them to play. We’ve had a couple of friendlies and they moved the ball well in each one.”

In a recent friendly against Moapa Valley in Overton, Martinez scored four goals for the Soccer Dogs.

“We’ve got the ability to score off our counter attack,” Paylor said. “It will be exciting to see what the boys can do this year.”

Pahrump Valley finished 3-15-5 last season and missed postseason play by finishing fifth in the Sunset League.

“It will be interesting to see what happens against Pahrump,” Paylor said. “If we are successful, it will be a big boost for the boys.”

The Soccer Dogs travel to Las Vegas on Monday to face Eldorado at 3 p.m. and will host 4-A powerhouse Palo Verde of Las Vegas Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the MSEC.