Flora’s late magic lifts Lake Tahoe CC men’s soccer over Lassen 1-0 in critical conference match
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — In the dying minutes of a crucial conference match, the Lake Tahoe Community College men’s soccer team pushed to break a scoreless tie against Lassen College. And Stephen Flora produced the necessary moment of magic.
“I saw the ball coming through and thought, ‘I better get my head on this, this is it, leave everything on the field,’” Flora said. “That’s what I did.”
The sophomore headed in a cross in the 90th minute Friday, Oct. 7, to lift the Coyotes to a 1-0 victory over the Cougars. The dramatic home win kept Lake Tahoe tied atop the Golden Valley Conference standings — and came at a critical juncture in conference play.
“It’s one of those games that can really turn and define a season,” Coyotes coach Nick Arbelaez said.
Lake Tahoe (6-3-4, 2-0-1 GVC) produced the late victory after a match that was even throughout. Both teams had chances in the defensive battle, and it appeared neither would break through after LTCC freshman Sean Keith hit the crossbar with a free kick in the 86th minute.
“I knew it was coming,” LTCC sophomore goalkeeper Victor Andrades said. “I knew we were going to have one more good chance, and I was out of the box when I saw that cross — ready to jump.”
Four minutes later, the Coyotes got that chance — and took advantage. Sophomore Jack Payne sent a cross into the box that Flora put his head on — the ensuing shot flew past Lassen’s goalkeeper and into the net to make it 1-0 and set off a frenzied celebration.
“When that ball was put across Stephen’s run — taking three steps back, then going in — was clinical,” Arbelaez said. “Once he got behind the defender, I knew we had a chance.”
After scoring, Flora immediately took off his jersey and waved it around his head before celebrating with nearby teammates. He then sprinted toward Lake Tahoe’s bench where Arbelaez was waiting — players celebrated in a mob surrounding the player and coach for two minutes before the match resumed.
“It was a haze,” Flora said, calling the wild mob the best moment of the season. “I was so out of breath after the celebration.”
The Coyotes rode that late strike and stellar defense Friday to hand Lassen (7-1-3, 2-1) its first loss of the season. The back line of sophomores Jack Larter, Courtney Lewis, Danny Culverwell and Rich Murray in front of Andrades kept the Cougars out of the net for Lake Tahoe’s eighth shutout of the season.
“As a back line and a goalkeeper, we just don’t want to concede,” Larter said. “We have the best defense in the conference, and we’re showing it time after time.”
COYOTES WOMEN FALL TO COUGARS 1-0, SUFFER FIRST CONFERENCE LOSS
In the first game of Friday’s doubleheader, the Lake Tahoe women’s soccer team couldn’t break through en route to its first conference defeat of the season. The Coyotes fell to Lassen 1-0 in a contest between league unbeatens, unable to fully recover from a sluggish start.
“We absolutely squandered an opportunity today,” Coyotes coach Jeremy Evans said. “This has happened multiple times, where they need a big halftime talk to get them to play — but it’s too late.”
Lake Tahoe (5-4-2, 2-1) took its time settling into the match, and trailed at halftime. There were few scoring chances in the first half, and Lassen (6-5-1, 3-0) capitalized on one of them — a goal from Kiera Morgan in the 37th minute.
“It was a lack of passing, a lack of possession and there was no real purpose,” Evans said. “We picked it up in the second half, but we definitely deserved to not get a result today.”
The Coyotes got their attack going late in the second half, but couldn’t pull even. A pair of corner kicks in the 77th minute led to a save and a shot over the bar, and a minute later an attempt from sophomore Kenya Maltase was kept out with a sliding save from the Cougars goalkeeper.
Both teams returned to action with a doubleheader at College of the Siskiyous on Tuesday, Oct. 11. The Coyotes are on the road again Friday, Oct. 14, with a twinbill against College of the Redwoods to be played at Shasta College.