Lake Tahoe Community College soccer season recap
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Head Coach Jeremy Evans says he won’t let one game diminish what the teams accomplished this year and highlights many victories.
Despite the season for the women coyotes ending in the first round of playoffs against longtime rival Sierra College, the team won their sixth conference title overall and in a row, and maintained their conference play shutout since 2019.
They did this while suffering a few season ending injuries that reduced their numbers. He says LTCC and Sierra have faced off in the playoffs the last five years. LTCC ended Sierra’s season in 2018 and 2019. They’re now tit-for-tat with Sierra ending their season last year and this year.
Coach Evans strategically scheduled difficult non-conference games and says they responded very well in conference play because of that.
The men’s team followed suit and won their first conference title since 2015. Coach says it’s the first time since 2009 that both the men’s and women’s soccer team from the same school won the conference titles in the same year.
‘The it factor’
Coach Evans says the men’s conference title win wasn’t just a team victory, but a personal win for him. It’s been a goal of his since he took over the team in 2019.
He says to do it with an undefeated season brings much elation and joy.
“We’ve had good teams the last few years,” he says “but we kind of had the it factor, if you will, with our men this year.”
Coach says it’s always his goal to win the conference title because that’s what gets the team into the playoffs.
Although they won their first playoff game as the 16th seeded team against the number one seeded team, he says the complicated math formula for seeding underrepresented their talent to Skyline.
“I felt a little bad for Skyline when we went to their place and beat them,” he says, “because I think they were thinking we were going to be a pushover team.”
After around 10 minutes, Evans says Skyline’s coaches learned that Tahoe can play. That was LTCC men’s first playoff win since 2018.
Evans says he’s proud of both teams because despite the dramatic loss for the men in the second playoff game against Merced and the first playoff loss for the women, both teams played as well as they could have in their final game.
Losing in a dramatic fashion
The dramatic fashion in which the men’s team lost in the second game of the playoffs was largely seen in the performance of the Merced goalkeeper’s theatrics. Coach Evan’s says the goalkeeper was always thinking he was hurt.
The Coyotes held the Blue Devils at 1 – 1 within two minutes of regular time. That’s when LTCC’s Harry Dwelly scored the would be game winning goal and put the score at 2 – 1.
Evans says the “Keeper needed a reason for his poor clearance and his setting up of Harry, so he conjured one up and [the] ref obliged.” The goal was retracted from the scoreboard and regulation time ended in a tie.
But that was just the start for referee calls being stacked against them. With eight minutes until the end of overtime play and the beginning of the penalty kick shootout, a referee called a penalty kick against one of LTCC’s defenders even though Evans says it wasn’t a foul.
“You could tell psychologically and emotionally,” Evans says, “our team just got broken in that moment.”
Merced scored on the penalty kick, putting them ahead.
Evans, also a certified referee, says he would have wanted to make sure there was contact and it was a blatant foul, especially with eight minutes left until the game is decided by penalty kicks anyway.
But he says he can’t blame Merced for being gifted the result and although referees can be easy punching bags, those were two critical plays in the game when there wasn’t much between opponents.
The coach met with the team this last week. He told them the only team celebrating at the end of the tournament is the winner, but it’s an opportunity to learn and battle the adversity. And at the end of the day, they accomplished a lot this year.
A pack of coyotes in New York City
Coach Evans remembers his most memorable moment from the season, and it wasn’t soccer related.
“What I try to do here in this program,” he says, “is create a great student athlete experience.”
That included taking both teams to New York City after raising enough money through fundraisers.
He was initially petrified, “am I just going to turn these 18 to 20 year olds loose in the New York City?”
It was an off day between game days, when the team arrived in Grand Central Station. Evans describes the scene where the whole team stepped off the train and everyone was in awe of the architecture.
The team then replicated a movie scene and took a photo on the steps of the station.
Evans says they have a lot of moments on the soccer field, ” but to think about the student athlete experience and what we’re trying to produce here, just seeing all these young people on the steps at a famous building, like Grand Central Station, something probably not a lot of college athletes get to do and I think that’s probably the one moment that I will remember.”
Bringing it back home
Evans says it’s one thing that makes South Lake Tahoe so special—community support. Even though it’s small, he sees the town supporting the sport on every age level.
“To me,” he says, “it’s a little soccer town.”
The evidence is on his roster, with multiple South Tahoe High School students. Three of them were starters in the men’s final playoff game.
Evans says, “That’s the true spirit of community college programs,” as he describes uncles, cousins, and parents in attendance at the games.
He’s particularly excited about South Tahoe High School’s upcoming grads after the boys won state and also notes many promising recruits in the wider Reno Tahoe area. He says many are already committed.
“I think both teams are going to take a big jump next year,” he offers, but says the games in August and September are won by what they do in January and February.
And after break, the teams plans on hitting the field with this season fueling their run for next season.
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