Trailing 2-0 at halftime, the Whittell boys soccer team started to inch back into the game with a spot in the Division III Nevada State Championship game on the line. The Warriors’ second-half surge pushed the closely-matched semifinal game into overtime, but Incline edged Whittell 4-3 Friday at Fernley High School.
Bryce Bronken didn’t waste any time after the halftime break. The speedy forward found Mark Waite one minute into the second half and set up a perfect scoring opportunity. Waite didn’t miss. The Warrior’s leading scorer blasted the ball into the lower right corner to chop Incline’s lead to one goal.
Bronken and Waite repeated the process a few minutes later. Waite sent in a pass from about 20 yards out and Bronken volleyed the shot into the upper right corner to knot the score at 2-2.
But Incline answered back quickly, regaining a 3-2 edge.
With time running out, RJ Rupp quickly maneuvered the ball halfway inside Incline’s box. The Highlands fouled Rupp, who hadn’t missed a penalty kick all year. As usual, the senior made good on the penalty kick opportunity.
There was about 10 minutes left on the clock and the Warriors got one last chance to close the game. Incline’s goalkeeper bobbled a save, but the Warriors’ ensuing shot narrowly sailed wide.
The boys then went head-to-head in sudden death overtime. Whittell came out strong in the first five minutes, but again a shot on goal flew wide.
With two minutes left on the clock, Incline freshman Rey Estrada found net on a corner kick, ending the hard-fought battle. Incline went on to win the State Championship game 3-1 against North Tahoe Saturday.
“We had a couple guys who were playing their first year of soccer and they really stepped up and kept us in the game,” head coach Timothy Plummer said. “But we had our chances, and we played through a lot of injuries and finished the game strong.”