The Warriors didn't let their chance at state slip by.
It's been a long time since the soccer teams had a shot at making state. Whittell saw the opportunity and kicked open the door that the new separate Division III playoffs left cracked. Both the boys and girls turned in winning performances in semifinals to lock their state spots before dropping their regional final to Incline.
"Hopefully we can go down there and play like we have the whole year and make it back to the championship game," boys coach Royal Good said.
Regional champs sounds nice, but state was the big prize, and Whittell grabbed it. Both teams will head to Henderson, Nev., on Thursday for their Friday semifinal matches.
Boys battle through physical match
Whittell versus Incline matches are always physical and Saturday's regional grand finale was no exception.
The boys lost starters Mark Waite, Marshall Neil and Rodney Aguirre-Rodrgiuez, who were all pulled as a precaution during the championship match. Waite was pulled after being injured in the first half. Marshall Neil was pulled in the second with a previous injury from Friday's semifinal match, and Aguirre-Rodrgiuez came out in the second half after he was injured during a free kick.
"We wanted to win that game, but the kids' safety comes first," Good said. "It was a little unfortunate that some of our guys had to leave the game with injuries during the championship game, but we're competing and playing with the teams we need to."
The boys lost 3-0, but all three injured starters will likely be ready by the time their first state match against The Meadows rolls around on Friday.
The semifinals were the game that mattered most, however, and the boys left no doubt they were state worthy with an 8-2 will against Yerington on Friday.
Senior Marshall Neil led the charge with four goals.
"He wants to go out on a high note in his last year and he has played very well for us all year," Good said.
Mark Waite, Palmer Chaplin and Bryce Bronken also netted goals for the Warriors.
"Everyone is playing good soccer right now at the end of the year," Good said.
For seniors Derek Heldt-Werle, Marshall Neil, Austin Neil and Aguirre-Rodriguez, state will be a trip to remember.
"We're just going to go in there and play like we have all year and see how the cards fall," Good said.
Girls push past injuries
The girls stepped up big time during last weekend's regional tournament and filled unfamiliar roles.
"This postseason's been a little tough for us with all our injuries," girls coach Patrick Kelly said, "but the girls have been very willing to move around and try new positions and do whatever it takes."
Their efforts earned them a trip to state when Whittell defeated Lovelock 3-0 in the semifinals Friday. The girls will advance to state three starters down, but the semifinal game proved they are capable of adjusting on the fly.
"It's going to give a lot of different girls some experiences in different places, but it's just one of those things you have to deal with and as a team. We're going to move on," Kelly said.
Goalkeeper Brittany Boulet and key starter Sabrina Trachsel are both out with knee injuries. Power midfielder Skylar Smith is also out with a possible concussion.
Although the Warriors lost their championship match 6-0 to Incline, the regional tournament was a good warmup for this weekend.
"Over the weekend, we gained a lot of great experience with playing in the tournament environment," Kelly said. "The girls did a great job just with learning how to play in a pressure game and what's needed to move on in a tournament situation."
Sierra Forvilly and Gisselle Benitez turned in standout performances last weekend despite playing unfamiliar positions.
Forvilly, who is usually a defender, seemed to get a feel for forward pretty quickly during the semifinals. The senior led the girls offense with two goals, along with Kenya Maltase's goal, to seal the state trip.
Meanwhile, Benitez held it down as goalkeeper.
"She was one of our starting midfielders, but she volunteered to go back," Kelly said. "She had a wonderful game against Lovelock, had the shutout, and also had a decent game against Incline in the finals."
The Warriors will graduate just three seniors Forvilly, Nicki Simon and Lauren Marshall.
"We're really excited about heading down there and seeing a school we don't know much about," Kelly said. "We don't know too much about them, but we're just going to go in there and play as well as we can and see where that gets us."
The girls will open with a semifinal game against Adelson on Friday at 4 p.m.