Trailing by one goal with five minutes left in the game, there was a frantic atmosphere in the Whittell crowd.
The fans had stuck out frigid temperatures to watch their Warriors mount a two-goal comeback in the second half, but time was running out.
The midfield fed the ball up to Kenya Maltase and she crossed the ball. The Warriors had been sending shot-after-shot at All-State goalkeeper Sarah Wright for the past 20 minutes, and this was potentially the last one. The ball sailed in front of the goal, but there was no one there, not Incline defender or Whittell Striker. Maltase was one step ahead.
Incline held onto its 3-2 lead for the win, and the Whittell girls soccer team felt the sting of its first loss at home on Thursday. But the Warriors spirits were high. They’d played a good game, especially in the second half, and felt it. The two teams were evenly matched, but Incline made the most of its possessions.
“Against Incline, you can’t give them three open shots or they’re going to burry them and that’s what they did,” Whittell coach Patrick Kelly said.
Incline had entered halftime with a 3-0 lead. The Highlanders’ center striker, Vanessa Andrade, is a big threat when she gets anywhere near the goal.
Andrade netted all three of Incline’s first-half goals. The first was off a cross from Elise Nelson 10 minutes into the game.
Andrade then fought off three Whittell players for possession in front of Whittell’s goal and slide-tackled a shot into the goal once again.
She notched her third with seven minutes left in the half when she sent a huge cross shot into the goal from about 15 yards out.
Despite the 3-0 score, Whittell was never out of the game. The Warriors had maintained equal possessions throughout the first half, and their shots started to find net in the second.
“I’ll tell you what, we thought we would beat them down in the second half and they came back for it. So I’ve got to give them credit,” Incline coach Tom Canino said.
Maltase blasted in a left-footed shot for the Warrior’s first goal 20 minutes into the second half.
The Warriors then started firing shots on Wright. Sabrina Trachsel barely missed two consecutive shots on goal, as the home crowd started to rally behind the Warriors.
But Incline’s goalkeeper was ready. She dove and twisted to make some spectacular saves and had solid defensive help from center back Kerrie Tonking.
Freshman Alison Copsy finally found net for the Warriors with five minutes to go. She popped in a corner kick to cut Incline’s lead to 3-2, but time ran out for the Warriors.
“The girls played extremely well. I thought we had very good possession,” Whittell coach Patrick Kelly said. “Incline is a very good team. They have very good players so it was really back-and-forth, but they capitalized on their chances tonight, and we didn’t until the end of the game. One or two more bounces and things could have been a little bit different.”
UP NEXT: The girls will host Quincy at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday and South Tahoe at 5 p.m. on Thursday. Whittell is now 6-1 overall and 5-1 in league.