Giangreco’s late goal sends Incline past Whittell, into regional semifinals | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Giangreco’s late goal sends Incline past Whittell, into regional semifinals

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Sami Giangreco had her tight calves massaged by a sports trainer pregame.

Then the Incline junior was so tired near the end of the game she could hardly breathe. She had a “little asthma attack.”

But when she found herself with the ball wide open on the wing in the final moments, everything was just fine.

Giangreco received a pass, dribbled within 15 yards of goal and, with a Whittell defender closing, unleashed a right-footed cannon shot into the left side of the net to give the Highlanders a 2-1 lead and send the team and sideline into a frenzied celebration.

“I usually play forward, but I was out on the wing because I couldn’t breathe,” Giangreco said. “I was having a little asthma attack. I saw the whole field shifted and I called for the ball as loud as I could, because I knew I had the opportunity, and I figured it might be my only opportunity to send us into the next round.”

Giangreco did send the No. 5 seeded Highlanders past the League B top seed Warriors 2-1 and into the semifinals of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Class 3A Northern Region Girls’ Soccer Championships.

“I was impressed with Whittell. they have some really good players that pose big threats,” said Incline head coach Michael Coudriet. “They gave us a great battle with it coming down to the final minutes. But we had the resolve to press forward with our game plan even though we were under pressure. I’m proud of the girls executing what we worked on the whole week. That last goal is exactly what we expected to see.”

Incline started the scoring about 20 minutes into the game.

Haley Miller found some room in the Whittell defense. She dribbled to within about 15 yards and crushed a right-footed shot that hit the top of the crossbar and deflected down into the net giving the goalkeeper no chance.

A minute later, Incline co-captain Lauren Golden just missed a one-timer, her shot sailed just wide left.

Whittell stole the thunder late in the first half with a goal from Ava Campbell off a free kick from Kyla Rippet.

Campbell headed the ball into the net just before the Incline keeper could get to it.

“It was a hard fought game on both ends of the field,” Giangreco said. “In the beginning we felt a little too comfortable, but we were able to fight back in the second half. It took us longer than we expected but we stayed focused. We knew we didn’t want to go into overtime because we were already drained.”

The Highlanders (11-8) likely will play No. 2 Truckee at 6 p.m. Friday. The winner advances to the championship game and also earns a tater berth.

“We got a win, so in the bigger picture I was really happy,” Coudriet said. “It’s crazy to win and already start thinking about tomorrow. We haven’t won for several years in the first round, we always get knocked out, so this is encouraging for the girls and definitely momentum for us. It was a harder game than we thought.”