Lake Tahoe CC soccer kicks off conference play with twinbill against Lassen | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Lake Tahoe CC soccer kicks off conference play with twinbill against Lassen

LTCC forward Michael Akin (right) celebrates his first-half goal against Lassen along with teammates Carlos Trujeque (middle) and Jerrell Cato (left) in the Coyotes’ 2-0 win over Lassen on Friday. The 15th-minute goal was Akin’s first of the season.

The men's and women's soccer teams at Lake Tahoe Community College have their sights set on finishing atop the Golden Valley Conference — and both took their first step toward that goal Friday. Both Coyotes' teams made successful debuts in conference play in a home doubleheader against Lassen College (Susanville, Calif.) — the men delivered a shutout victory over the Cougars, and the women rallied for a draw.

Lake Tahoe men blank Lassen 2-0

In the second game of the doubleheader, Lake Tahoe's men's team began conference play with a victory. The Coyotes scored once in each half and controlled play en route to a 2-0 win over Lassen.

"I thought the team did a very good job playing our style of possession," Coyotes head coach Ben Wade said. "There were times often during the game when we would string along 20, 30, 40 passes in a row without Lassen College touching the ball — that's great college soccer."

Forward Michael Akin opened the scoring for Lake Tahoe (6-4-2, 1-0-0 Golden Valley) in the 15th minute. The chance was created when midfielder Jarryd McKellar kept the ball inbounds with a backheel flick near midfield that sent forward Jerrell Cato on a run into the Lassen box — Cato delivered a low cross to a streaking Akin, who finished the chance for his first goal of the season.

In the second half, LTCC defender Josh Jirbandey scored on a header to ice the match. The Coyotes controlled play for a majority of the match — the Cougars only had one true shot while being held scoreless.

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"I told the guys it was the most important game of the season — in fact, all games leading up to this moment should be forgotten," Wade said.

Lake Tahoe's conference debut came against an opponent familiar to its program, adding further emotion to the occasion. Wade coached at Lassen for the past three seasons, and 10 of the Coyotes' players were on the Cougars' squad that won the conference title last season.

"Obviously there was a point to prove in this match because Lassen was where I coached for many years and many of LTCC's players transferred from there," Wade said. "I think both teams had something to prove — and it seems to me at the end of the day our point was the only one validated."

Through Monday's matches, the Coyotes were ranked 12th in the state. LTCC returned to action Tuesday at Butte College (Oroville, Calif.).

Coyotes women rally to tie Cougars 1-1

In the first game of the twinbill, LTCC's women's team overcame a slow start to salvage a point against Lassen. The Coyotes rallied to tie the Cougars 1-1, evening the match in the second half with a goal from forward Tianna Carrington.

"We came out flat — and we expect more when we're defending our home turf. People on our squad should be feeding off each other's energy," LTCC head coach Christian DeLeon said. "Kudos to Lassen — they had a very well-executed plan of being patient and playing off our mistakes."

Lake Tahoe (4-3-3, 0-0-1) fell behind in the 30th minute when defender Stephanie Kester scored to put Lassen up 1-0. A defensive breakdown by the Coyotes led to Lassen's goal, which came off a Cougars' goal kick.

"A first bad touch, a second bad touch and then not marking — it was just a total defensive breakdown," DeLeon said.

In the second half, the Coyotes controlled play and were able to pull even. Carrington scored in the 61st minute — her fifth goal of the season came off an assist from midfielder Keely Martin.

"The second half was a different story — we dominated," DeLeon said. "We can't afford to go down and then try to come back, because not many opportunities are going to arise when teams play a defensive style."

The draw put Lake Tahoe in third place in the conference standings behind Feather River College (Quincy, Calif.) and Butte, who each won their openers. For the Coyotes to challenge for the conference title, DeLeon said the team needs to play more consistently moving forward.

"Feather River is not that far ahead of us, but we can't afford these ties," DeLeon said. "This is it — this is the second half of our season and we need to have the passion and composure to play our game."

Lake Tahoe returned to action Tuesday at Butte. The Coyotes play a nonconference match at College of the Redwoods (Eureka, Calif.) on Friday at 2 p.m.

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