INCLINE VILLAGE - The Incline boys liked their chances at a regional title this past weekend, so long as they could get past rival North Tahoe in the semifinal round of the Northern Division III soccer tournament.
They did, edging the Lakers by a 2-1 score, and it was clear sailing from there as the Highlanders went on to defeat Whittell 3-0 for the regional championship Saturday.
The Lakers, seeded fourth in the tournament due to an oddly structured power rankings system, did not make it easy on the hosts. Although Incline jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first half, North Tahoe cut into the margin with a goal in the 33rd minute and threatened to score the equalizer on multiple occasions in the second half.
"We did a pretty good job with our ball control and putting away the ones we had, but I would have felt better if we had gotten one more," said Incline head coach Tom Canino. "North Tahoe certainly didn't give up at any point."
Incline got on the board first with a goal in the seventh minute, as sophomore Luis Munoz followed up the rebound of a shot by Drew Bessette.
The Highlanders struck again in the 28th minute after senior Kyle Reeves received a through ball from Erick Rodriguez and beat North Tahoe goalie Jose Chavez, who had replaced starter Omar Vargas after Vargas suffered a head injury.
About five minutes after the goal, however, North Tahoe sophomore Lucas Early cut the 2-0 lead in half when he kicked in a corner kick.
"We played pretty hard, but we were a little sloppy, especially in the first half," Canino said. "Our touches were not that great, and I thought we kind of played into their game."
The Lakers came out hard in the second half, and had several opportunities to knot the score. But Incline made it tough with feisty defense led by Oscar Gudino, Brian Cuadros, Hugo Garcia and Marlon Correa, and the game ended with Incline a goal up.
That sent the Highlanders to the regional final Saturday against second-seeded Whittell, which had defeated third-seeded Yerington 8-2 on Friday.
The game remained in a scoreless tie through one half.
Sophomore Ian Reeves put an end to that with a goal assisted by Kyle Reeves in the 55th minute. Kyle Reeves pushed the lead to 2-0 in the 66th minute, assisted by Estefan Scheid, and Rey Estrada capped the scoring with an unassisted goal in the 74th minute.