Finally, 4A girls’ soccer teams can win state |

Finally, 4A girls’ soccer teams can win state

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

There seems to be no end in sight to the saga that allows most Nevada Northern and Southern 4A high schools to play girls’ soccer in separate seasons.

In Northern Nevada, weather dictates when its schools can play an outdoor sport like soccer. Essentially the fall is the only season suitable for the sport since snow covers many fields in the winter and below-freezing temperatures are prevalent during the winter and spring months.

In Southern Nevada, soccer could conceivably be played in fall, winter or spring because of Las Vegas’ mild climate. Although boys’ soccer is played in the fall for all classifications to jive with the Northern Nevada schools, the Southern schools have remained protective of playing girls’ soccer during the winter.

Hence, there has never been a “true” state champion in girls’ soccer. Northern Nevada crowns its “state” champion in Nevada and Southern Nevada does so in March.

“I wish we could get on the same page so we could have a true state championship like the boys,” said STHS girls’ soccer coach Clint Lockhart, whose Vikings are one of four teams in the first state tournament. “Until we’re playing in same season, there’s no way of actually determining who is a true state champion.”

Many different reasons have been tendered as to why the Southern 4A continues to play soccer in the winter: more facilities available, players are on club teams in the fall and there are not enough coaches to direct both programs in the same season. But the overriding reason appears to be the threat of a lawsuit.

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NIAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine has made several attempts to bring the 4A regions together for a state tournament but has met legal resistance.

“We’ve done all that we can do to move forward, but one parent and one athlete have put themselves above the rest of the participants because of what they think is a Title IX violation,” Bonine said.

The athlete’s parent is a Las Vegas attorney, according to Bonine, and wishes to ensure that his daughter can continue to play volleyball in the fall and soccer in the winter.

“I wasn’t going to spend $50,000 in attorney fees to prove whether we are right or wrong,” Bonine said. “We’re not going to push the issue.”

There could be some movement toward a completely unified state tournament. For the first time in NIAA history, a 4A girls’ state soccer tournament is going to be played. Four schools, including South Tahoe, will participate in the historic event today and Saturday at Damonte Ranch High in Reno.

When Faith Lutheran and Pahrump Valley moved from the 3A to the 4A classification to start the current school year, the schools elected to keep their girls’ soccer seasons in the fall. Their reward: a one-game playoff to determine a Southern champion and an invitation to join three Northern 4A schools for the first real attempt at a girls’ state tournament.

“It’s the opinion of Eddie Bonine that we are having a true state championship in the fall because we have a Northern school representative playing against a Southern school representative,” Bonine said.

Faith Lutheran of Las Vegas will play Douglas at 2 p.m. today in the second semifinal, representing the first postseason game between 4A schools from different regions.

“The NIAA and I think this is a true state girls’ soccer tournament,” said STHS Athletic Director Don Borges. “The other Southern 4A schools have been given the opportunity to join the state tournament. They choose to keep their regional championship.”

The NIAA has granted the Southern 4A an extension to offer girls’ soccer in the winter at least through 2011. Until then, the only state soccer tournament will be played in the North.

“We’ve beaten our heads on the wall on this one and found a reasonable compromise. I wish I could say (the end is in sight), but I have no idea when it will be,” Bonine said.