Copsy’s late goal lifts Whittell girls soccer past North Tahoe 3-2
ZEPHYR COVE — The Whittell girls soccer team needed a spark in attack to break a deadlock against cross-lake rival North Tahoe on Monday, Sept. 26. The Warriors turned to Ali Copsy, and the senior delivered.
Copsy scored the game-winning goal in the 74th minute — her second of the match — to lift Whittell to a 3-2 win over the Lakers. The Warriors prevailed in a back-and-forth contest, avenging losses in last season’s Div. III State championship and this year’s season opener in the process.
“We knew from the get go it was going to be a tough 80-minute game start to finish,” Warriors coach David Caputo said. “I’m glad to see that in the end we were on top.”
Whittell (6-1) opened up a two-goal lead nine minutes into Monday’s match, only to have North Tahoe (4-2-2) rally and tie things up midway through the second half. Copsy moved from wing to forward with 15 minutes to play, and generated a number of scoring chances before ultimately burying the winner.
“I didn’t know if the goal was coming, but I wanted it,” Copsy said. “We had been working so hard in the last 20 minutes — I was just waiting and it was bound to happen.”
On the goal, Copsy corralled a long ball from senior Madison Idso that left her alone against a North Tahoe defender and the Lakers goalkeeper. With the defender on her right, Copsy took the ball left toward the end line and fired a shot that slid past the goalkeeper and inside the post from a narrow angle to make it 3-2.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go right because I had somebody on my shoulder, so I went left and I prayed that thing was going in,” Copsy said. “It’s almost like second nature. I can feel it and I can feel when I need to let go — my legs took over and they knew.”
North Tahoe had two chances to tie the match in the last six minutes, but the Warriors were able to hold on. A goal in the 78th minute was called off after a handball, and a minute later Taimani Hussey made a save on a long shot that preserved the victory.
“It builds confidence for us if we make it to zone and state that we can hang with them,” Copsy said. “It was important for us as a team to feel like we’re good together.”
The Warriors opened the scoring in the fifth minute when senior Gigi Stetler easily finished a breakaway opportunity. Four minutes later, Copsy took a through ball from Stetler and converted the chance to put the Warriors ahead 2-0.
“We had them scared,” Caputo said. “If we would have potentially capitalized and scored that third goal, they would have been demoralized.”
The Lakers found the back of the net in the 28th minute when Payton Black produced a one-touch finish on a cross from Aliza Neu, and Whittell took that one-goal lead into the break. In the second half, North Tahoe scored again to make it 2-2.
“The moment that they scored, we started playing afraid — afraid to make tackles or play [passes],” Caputo said. “The momentum shifted at that point.”
Maile Markham — the Lakers’ most dangerous player — dribbled through Whittell’s defense and finished a breakaway past Hussey to tie the score in the 58th minute. The Warriors came close to taking the lead on two separate occasions before Copsy delivered with six minutes left.
Though not a league match, Monday’s contest against North Tahoe was as important as any Whittell will play in the regular season. The Warriors have had few opportunities to play against quality competition thus far, similar to what they would see at regionals.
“With the way our league is, it’s really hard to judge because there’s such a huge variety of ability,” Caputo said. “We need to make sure we’re taking care of things, so when we face these tougher teams we’re not caught off guard.”
Whittell resumes league play Thursday, Sept. 29, at White Pine to begin an extended stretch of road matches. The Warriors play seven straight off the hill before closing the regular season with home matches against West Wendover and White Pine on Oct. 28 and 29.