Lake Tahoe CC men’s soccer notches first win of season, beats Mendocino 1-0 at Lake Tahoe Invitational |

Lake Tahoe CC men’s soccer notches first win of season, beats Mendocino 1-0 at Lake Tahoe Invitational

Anthony Gentile
Lake Tahoe freshman Ieuan Thomas (second from right) celebrates a goal with teammates Ben Sapsed (far left), Willie Twumasi (middle left) and Danny Culverwell (far right) during the Coyotes’ non-conference match against Mendocino on Saturday, Aug. 27.
Anthony Gentile / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Ieuan Thomas’ first-ever goal in competition helped the Lake Tahoe Community College men’s soccer team deliver its first victory of the season Saturday, Aug. 27. The British forward scored in the 21st minute, enough to lift the Coyotes to a possession-driven 1-0 victory over Mendocino College (Ukiah, Calif.)

“This is the game that sets us off for the season,” Thomas said. “This is the one that starts our road to the championship.”

Lake Tahoe (1-0-1) dominated possession and scoring chances Saturday, and did so while playing nearly 30 players against the Eagles. The Coyotes struck midway through the first half, and that goal held up to hand Mendocino (0-2) its second loss in as many days at the six-team Lake Tahoe Invitational.

“I felt like we had it the whole game — it was all us,” Thomas said. “We got the one goal we needed and that finished it.”

In the first half, Thomas settled a cross from sophomore midfielder Rich Murray near the top of the 18-yard-box and delivered a left-footed finish across the face of goal. Though not accustomed to playing in attack, the freshman didn’t show it on the shot that produced the only score of the match.

“I’ve never played up top in a competitive game and I’ve never scored. It was my first goal, so it was nice,” Thomas said. “The touch wasn’t the best one ever, but I had the pace to get back to it and finish it with my left.”

The Coyotes couldn’t add to their lead for the rest of the match, but the result was never in doubt. Lake Tahoe controlled possession and the contest with its 4-3-3 formation, holding Mendocino to one shot on goal in each half — goalkeepers Victor Andrades and Omar Trujillo combined for a shutout.

“At the end of the day I wasn’t worried about the score, I was worried about if guys could play in games like that,” Coyotes coach Nick Arbelaez said. “These guys proved up to the test.”

By the time the final whistle sounded, Lake Tahoe played nearly its entire roster en route to its first victory of the campaign. That quality depth is a good sign for a Coyotes team that has its sights set on winning a CCCAA state championship.

“This year I feel like we don’t have any holes,” Arbelaez said. “Guys are only going to continue to get better, and it’s more of a team.”

In its season opener Friday night, Aug. 26, Lake Tahoe played the first game on the school’s brand new turf field. The Coyotes tied Clovis Community College (Fresno, Calif.) 1-1, with both goals coming in the second half.

LTCC freshman Sean Keith converted a penalty kick in the 60th minute to open the scoring, and Clovis answered 15 minutes later. The Coyotes’ on-campus stadium still somewhat resembled a construction site at kickoff, but the new playing surface is the first piece of a facility that will rival any in the state.

“This field is unbelievable. The school has really done a great job,” Arbelaez said. “The staff that we have to be able to put this on is unbelievable, and I give all the credit to the school.”

The Coyotes returned to action Tuesday, Aug. 30, at Cañada College (Redwood City, Calif.). This weekend, Sept. 2-4, Lake Tahoe will play three games in three days at the Hartnell Invitational held at Hartnell College in Salinas, California.

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