Whittell, Incline soccer battle to tie | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Whittell, Incline soccer battle to tie

Jeremy Evans

ZEPHYR COVE – It’s been several years since the Whittell girls’ soccer team left the field frustrated after tying Northern 3A power Incline. But that was exactly the situation after the Highlanders and Warriors tied 1-1 in a key league match on Tuesday at Whittell.

“I told them not to hang their heads,” said WHS coach Tony Cormier. “They played hard. A tie isn’t the best thing in the world, but to come back and tie a team that crushed us the first time we played is nothing to be ashamed of.”

Whittell opened the season with a 5-0 loss at Incline on Sept. 2 and came away disappointed with its effort. The Warriors believed Tuesday’s match would be a day of redemption, and Incline coach John Paganelli was prepared for their spirited play.

“I expected them to come out hard and they did,” Paganelli said. “We were offsides eight times in the first half, and you just can’t do that. We should’ve came out and dominated them again, and it didn’t happen.”

After a scoreless first half, Whittell’s Sasha Rupp opened the scoring in the 47th minute after running down a loose ball and chipping the Incline keeper for a 1-0 lead. But in the 53rd minute, the Highlanders found the equalizer when Kelli Cherry sprinted down the sideline, beat two defenders and sent a left-footed shot past Kendra Nelson.

Both teams used an offside trap, a defensive tactic that created numerous fastbreak opportunities as players repeatedly got behind the last defender. However, no goals resulted from the defensive posture, though Incline’s Sarah Scott had a shot hit the post in the first half, and Nelson denied a Cherry shot that kept the game scoreless.

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Cormier credited his defense, led by Sammy Brumbach and Gabriella Tracy, for keeping the Incline attackers at bay. Brumbach used her speed to chase down several Highlanders and kept them from having point-blank shots on goal.

“Our defense was just lights out,” Cormier said. “They kept us in the game, and our midfield had probably its best transition game of the year. I think this games gives us a boost for the rest of the season.”

Incline and Whittell are now tied for second place in the Tahoe League standings at 2-2-1. Whittell (8-4-2 overall) plays a nonleague game at Fernley on Thursday, then another one on Saturday against Dayton.