TAHOE CITY — After 160 minutes of heated, rivalrous soccer, nothing was decided in the first Incline-North Tahoe showdown of the season.
The Northern Division III foes, both boys and girls, spent much energy and emotion entertaining a large crowd on Dollar Hill only to come away with a couple of 2-2 stalemates on a frigid night Thursday.
Host North Tahoe left with greater satisfaction from both contests. The Laker girls came back from a 2-0 first-half deficit while the North Tahoe boys scored a goal in final minutes to draw even.
“It was a great game,” longtime North Tahoe boys coach Beto Alcaraz said. “Our boys didn’t put their heads down. It was a matter of pride, and everybody played very hard.”
North Tahoe senior forward Jose Chavez put the Lakers on the board first with a goal off a free kick taken by Angel Guerrero early in the first half.
Incline’s main scoring threat, junior Sal Vargas, evened the score with the first of his two goals on the night in about the 20th minute.
Play remained even half, with both teams receiving support from the enthusiastic and bundled crowd, much of which consisted of girls players from both schools.
“They were a lot better than we expected,” Incline coach Ian Hauck said of the inspired Lakers.
Neither team was able to gain momentum in the second half until Vargas received a free kick from about 20 yards out in the 60th minute, which Alcaraz and the Lakers contested. The junior capitalized on the opportunity, burying a low shot to the right of a diving Omar Vargas.
It seemed the Highlanders would escape with the 2-1 win. Before the final whistle could sound, however, North Tahoe freshman Jesus Ortega gathered a loose ball near the top of the box and, with his back turned to the goal, spun and blasted a slicing shot just inside the left post.
“I liked our intensity and our passion in moments,” Alcaraz said. “Everybody stepped it up. Everybody put their hearts into it, because Incline is a good team.”
The girls game seemed less likely to finish in a tie after a hot start by sophomore Vanessa Andrade and the Highlanders.
Andrade, who’s been a scoring machine for Incline this season, notched the first of her two goals off an assist from Kimberly May in the 10th minute. Three minutes later, Andrade extended Incline’s lead to 2-0 with a goal assisted by Elise Nelson.
The Lakers were down but not out.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, sophomore Bryn Anderson, a scoring machine herself this season, cut the lead in half. North Tahoe junior Francesca English then put in another Laker goal just four minutes later to pull even.
North Tahoe’s defense of Kami Abi-Nader, Emma DesLauriers, Allison Wright and Kasey Foster fended off the Highlander attack the rest of the way, and the Lakers held on for the tie.
“(It was a) great finish for them after going down 2-0. Disappointing finish for us,” said Incline coach Tom Canino.
Aside from her defense, North Tahoe coach Kristin Carlson was pleased with the play of Julia Semmens, Bozhie Pokorny, Anderson and English.
“I thought every player fought for the ball when Incline had possession,” Carlson said. “They kept their composure and passed and moved well as a team.”
The North Tahoe girls followed up with a quality 3-0 win over Division I Hug on Monday.
Anderson scored a hat trick with assists from Semmens. Pokorny played a solid game at midfield, Carlson said, and the Lakers received strong defense from Abi-Nader, DesLauriers, Wright and Foster.