FALLON — A pair of early goals proved to be the difference as the South Tahoe girls soccer team claimed the Northern Division I-A regional title on Saturday.
The Vikings held off rival Truckee, 3-2, for another regional championship heading into Friday’s state tournament in Dayton.
“It was a little tough,” South Tahoe coach Jeremy Evans said. “Truckee’s playing for a regional championship and the last 10, 15 minutes are nervous. We got to learn to play with a little more composure.”
South Tahoe struck first in the sixth minute when Sarah Higginbotham broke free and slipped a shot past Wolverines goalkeeper Cassandra Sawyer.
The Vikings went up 2-0 when Ashlee Schouten lobbed a pass into the goal box and found Jordan Dion. Dion settled the ball and fired a shot into the left corner in the 29th minute.
But Truckee’s offense responded with three chances late in the half. Nichole Graham was denied at close range, and Marcelle Reynaud was also turned away from 8 yards out by Vikings goalkeeper Alejandra Orozco.
The Wolverines, though, broke through in the 35th minute when Kaylee Neill scooped up a loose ball in front of the net and scored.
“We definitely came out too jittery,” Truckee coach Katie Jamison said. “When we were able to recover that formation, the game changed significantly, but being down 2-0 is hard to come back from.”
Early in the second half, South Tahoe upped its lead to 3-1 when Schouten put home a free kick from about 25 yards out. From there, Truckee’s offense started to gain momentum, but it was too late.
The Wolverines added a goal in the 54th minute when Neill blasted a laser past Orozco. Sawyer came up big when she stopped a penalty kick by South Tahoe’s Cassidy Jackson with 20 minutes left in the half.
“That was big,” Evans said. “If we score, I think Truckee collapses, but it was a momentum shift and we had to withstand the pressure.”
Truckee’s final push to tie the game nearly came to fruition when Melisa Pena’s shot richoted off the post and bounced off Orozco. The ball, however, trickled outside the net.
Minutes later, Pena put a corner kick into the box and found the head of Neill, who’s flick sailed just high over the crossbar.
“I honestly think we came out too frazzled,” Jamison said. “As a result we struggled the first 10 minutes. It was much better (in the second half). I’m proud of what they did in the second half.”
Truckee will open the state tournament in Dayton against defending state champ Pahrump Valley on Friday at 4 p.m. South Tahoe will battle Faith Lutheran Friday at noon. The winners meet in the title game Saturday at 11 a.m.