Vikings get a second chance in first 4A state tournament
November 11, 2009
In previous years, the controversial conclusion to last week’s girls’ regional soccer championship would have been a painful ending for South Tahoe High to take into the offseason.
But the Vikings have one of life’s few second chances – courtesy of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association’s first Class 4A girls’ soccer state tournament.
South Tahoe, the No. 2 seed from the North, will encounter Sierra Division foe Galena in a noon semifinal today at Damonte Ranch High in Reno.
It’s a game that will allow the Vikings (18-5-2) to put an emotional week behind them. Last Saturday, the Vikings lost the regional final to Douglas 2-1 on a penalty kick in overtime. Not only did the PK deliver the deciding goal, but it also knocked senior goalie Alexis Nunes-Fenley out of today’s state semifinal. Nunes-Fenley was assessed a red card while trying to stop Katie Dry’s attempt to score late in the first overtime. Players receiving red cards are dismissed from the current game as well as the ensuing match.
“I know the girls really wanted to win the regional championship. They had their hearts set on that,” said South Tahoe coach Clint Lockhart. “But it’s nice to have an opportunity to come back and hopefully meet a team that we lost to in the regional championship. They are putting a lot of weight on a state championship and the possibility of going into the history books as the first team to win that.”
To get another shot at Douglas, the Vikings will have to beat a Galena squad that downed South Tahoe 3-1 earlier in the season. South Tahoe avenged that defeat with a 2-1 home win against the Grizzlies on Oct. 13. Galena advanced to state by beating Sierra Division champion Carson 2-0 in a regional third-place match last Saturday.
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Galena could be shaping up as the darkhorse contender to win the state title since it now has a healthy high-scoring forward combination of Sara Lancaster and Melanie Neff. Lancaster scored 16 goals in the regular season, and Neff missed most of the year but still scored six times.
“They are definitely a more formidable team now with Neff back,” said Lockhart, noting that both were first-team all-league selections a year ago. “It’s gonna be another uphill battle.”
South Tahoe defenders Ashley Killeen, Erika Cook and Stephany Campuzano have been instrumental in holding opposing teams to two goals or less during a nine-game unbeaten streak over the second half of the season.
“Our defense has played real strong down the stretch and really come together,” Lockhart said. “Hopefully we can pitch our shutout, get our goal and move onto the championship game.”
Unable to use Nunes-Fenley in the semifinal, Lockhart will likely start Mickey Segers between the pipes. Segers had several outstanding performances before Nunes-Fenley returned from knee surgery late in the season.
“Mickey has done a great job in goal, so has Janet (Campuzano),” Lockhart said. “Mickey had a huge game against both Carson and Douglas. We feel confident with either Mickey or Janet in the goal. We’re going to do our best to win that game and get into the state championship.”
If they do, Nunes-Fenley, an all-leaguer keeper in 2008, will return for one final game in goal.
“Lexi is a tough kid mentally and physically,” Lockhart said. “She’s got a lot of confidence that her team will let her play in another game.”
That could mean another shot against regional champion Douglas, which denied South Tahoe its first regional title in 13 years. The Tigers, however, must dispose of Southern champion Faith Lutheran (17-1-1) in the semifinals.
“That (rematch) would definitely draw more attention,” Lockhart said. “I don’t think there are any bad feelings between the teams. Douglas played a fantastic game.
“It will bring intensity as a rematch, and the girls are wanting to prove they should have won that game. A lot of people counted these girls out from the beginning, not sure they were going to make the playoffs. Not only did they make the playoffs but to go this far. I couldn’t be prouder of the effort they’ve put in.”