The North Tahoe girls played defending state champion Incline tough all season. Friday’s Division III state semifinal in Fernley was no exception.
The Lakers and Highlanders played to a 1-1 draw through 80 minutes of regulation. Two 15-minute, sudden-death overtime periods weren’t enough to settle the score either.
A penalty shootout was in order.
With the pressure on, Incline put in four goals, North Tahoe put in three, and the top-seeded Highlanders advanced to Saturday’s state championship game against Whittell — which Incline won, 1-0, in overtime.
“It was a great game,” first-year North Tahoe coach Kristin Carlson said of the Lakers’ semifinal battle. “I am extremely proud of the way we played as a team and supported each other as a team. They truly left it all out on the field.”
The Highlanders struck first and carried a 1-0 lead into the half. Emily Pieper pulled the Lakers even in the second half, as the skilled senior took advantage of a foul in the box by converting a penalty kick.
Neither team managed to score again as both senior All-State goalkeepers, North Tahoe’s Angela Wood and Incline’s Sarah Wright, denied every shot sent their way.
Wood finished with 22 saves in the high-drama contest, which kept fans perched at the edge of their seats.
“The energy from the crowd and the team was electric,” Carlson said, adding that Wood, captains Pieper and Kami Abi-Nader, and Sara Trimm all played particularly well.
Pieper and junior Julia Semmens scored in the penalty shootout, while Ab-Nader, who is one of the top defenders in the state, flashed her offensive capabilities with a shootout goal as well.
“I hope the girls remember this game and the skills they learned this season, and work hard to compete next season,” Carlson said. “We will miss the seniors’ talent, leadership and personalities.
The Lakers, who graduate five seniors — Abi-Nader, Pieper, Wood, Bozhie Pokorny and Zoe Anderson — finished the year 10-6-1 against Division III competition.
The Highlanders posted a final record of 13-0-3 as they secured their second straight state championship.