ZEPHYR COVE, NEV. - Thursday night could have gone either way.
The Warriors and Lakers were evenly matched on the pitch. The girls ended with a 1-1 tie after a back-and-forth battle that featured spectacular saves on goal.
As the cold continued to creep in on Whittell so did the North Tahoe boys. The Laker boys took advantage of penalty shots and edged out the Warriors 3-0.
Both teams played with intensity down to the bitterly cold end.
"It was good to see an aggressive game that wasn't cheap," North Tahoe girls coach Jon Rockwood said. "Aggression is part of this game and it's a really cool part of this game. If you can do it well it just adds intensity, and intensity is fun to play in."
The lady Warriors set an intense tone as soon as they stepped on the field. Whittell had the upper hand in the first half, but North Tahoe managed to hold them off.
"It could have been anyone's game, but I do think Whittell had us on our heels significantly in the first half," Rockwood said.
North Tahoe goalkeeper Angela Wood kept the Lakers in the game. Wood has an instinct in goal, Rockwood said. There was no questioning this as Woods flew and tumbled to hold off shots from Whittell.
The game still tied a zero, the Lakers came out stronger in the second half.
"North Tahoe revisited a little bit of their focus at halftime and came out with the understanding that if we don't pick it up this is going to be a loss," Rockwood said.
Meanwhile, the Warriors kept up their pace-setting tempo.
Whittell's midfield continued to push up, and forward Jenny Shepack blasted in the first goal with 13 minutes to go. The lightning-fast forward surged past the Lakers' defense off a pass from Kenya Maltase to put the shot away.
Shepack now leads the Warriors with 17 goals on the season and eight assists.
Now trailing 1-0, the Lakers played the final 10 minutes with renewed intensity and Whittell goalkeeper Brittany Boulet was under fire. Boulet fended off a tremendous shot at the nine-minute mark, but the Lakers' Emily Pieper found net off a pass from Bozhie Pokorny with four minutes remaining.
"We definitely created a lot of chances, but it was two really evenly matched teams," Warriors coach Patrick Kelly said. "Them scoring late in the game was a little disappointing, but as I told the girls that's the way soccer is sometimes."
The Whittell girls are now 1-3-2 in league and will play at South Tahoe Tuesday at 4 p.m. The Lakers are now 3-3-1 in league and will also visit South Tahoe next match Thursday at 4 p.m.
The boys were also evenly matched. Neither team scored until the final minute of the first half when North Tahoe's Trevor Semmens found net.
Semmens worked the ball in from the wing to net a goal seconds before the halftime buzzer. It was a repeat moment for Semmens, whose first goal was called offside minutes earlier.
The Lakers tallied nearly 10 offside calls during the game.
"They were really anxious tonight," Whittell boys coach Royal Good said. "But North Tahoe played really well tonight."
The Lakers capitalized on penalty shots to build on their lead in the second half.
Wildon DesLauriers made it 2-0 with a penalty kick from outside the box with 16 minutes on the clock.
Riley McGuire-McCarthy notched the final goal for North Tahoe also with a penalty shot, this time from inside the box. Whittell goalkeeper Austin Neil deflected the initial shot, but McGuire-McCarthy followed into the net.
"My players handled the pressure very well," Lakers coach Beto Alcaraz said. "We needed to score, but at the same time we needed to keep our composure or discipline on the field."
The win improves North Tahoe to 1-4-1 in league.
"We've had a couple of close games this season," midfielder Nico Monforte said. "But this is our first league win of the season, and now we get to play everyone again so this was a good way to start it off."