Hundreds watch Lake Tahoe Community College women tie Sierra in battle of unbeaten teams (video)
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — It was a playoff-type of battle a couple weeks before postseason begins.
Hundreds were in the bleachers, standing along the fence and in provided fold-up chairs on a pitch-black Tuesday night on the South Shore to watch a non-conference clash of unbeaten titans.
No moon, no stars, no yes or no on Measure T signs, just great soccer between two of the best junior college programs in the state.
The No. 2-ranked Lake Tahoe Community College Coyotes and No. 4 Sierra Wolverines engaged in an entertaining, all-out soccer war for 90 minutes and walked off the field after shaking hands with a 1-1 tie.
Sierra seemed upbeat with the tie after scoring in the last 15 minutes while Lake Tahoe left the field feeling somewhat dejected.
“We’re bummed, the girls thought they were the better team with the better chances,” said Coyotes head coach Jeremy Evans. “They’ve been waiting for this game and they felt like it was within their grasp and that it got taken away from them, but that happens sometimes.”
LTCC did have the better scoring chances including what looked like a goal in the first 10 minutes that wasn’t awarded by officials. A shot slammed off the crossbar, bounced down and hit — according to officials outside the goal and, according to every same-time reaction from the Coyotes, inside the goal.
The Coyotes also had a penalty kick in the final few minutes that was saved by the Sierra keeper.
There was another hit crossbar and a couple of point-blank opportunities that didn’t go the Coyotes way.
“I do think that was a goal that was scored over there that we didn’t get, but whatever, once that first 15 minutes was over I think Sierra realized that Tahoe is pretty good,” Evans said. “It became an even game. They have some dangerous players and we knew our back four would be tested like never before this season and they were.”
The Coyotes got on the scoreboard first in the first 10 minutes of the second half off a set piece.
Madison Boyd hit a free kick from about 40 yards and placed it perfectly in the box where Lauren Wolcott put a head on it and deflected right past the Sierra keeper.
“I saw the ball come down right in front of me,” Wolcott said. “I saw the goalkeeper out of the corner of my eye but my eyes were on the ball and I was thinking just get a little piece, a little dink, and it happened. It was like out of a movie. It went in and I was like, ‘Ahhhhhh!”
Wolcott said she likes to take advantage of confusion in front of the net. She has scored 10 goals on the season
“I like to follow up shots and poke them in after,” Wolcott said. “I like to be the cherry picker because those goalies don’t always hold onto the ball.”
“We have some tall girls and we don’t always get to the back post like we should,” Evans said. “Boyd put a great ball in there and Lauren is a threat. She’s crafty and can find the creases. It was no surprise she scored and I think we can do that more. Corner kicks can be better and that can be part of our attack because against good teams you don’t always get the run of play.”
The Coyotes held off a couple of threats, but were stung by a counterattack with 13 minutes on the clock.
A good centering pass led to a good finish where Coyotes keeper Claudia Janese had no chance.
“We got a little stretched and I think it was a deserved goal on their part,” Evans said. “It was a great goal. Then we get the PK and have some chances, I just can’t complain or be unhappy. This was like a final four, championship-type game.”
The game was put on the schedule so the Coyotes, and Wolverines, could have a playoff-caliber game before the playoffs actually begin, something Lake Tahoe was missing last year as they rampaged through the conference undefeated and allowed just one goal, same as this year.
“This is the game we didn’t have last year,” Evans said. “We went into the playoffs without being tested. These are the games we want to play in. I couldn’t be more happy with our girls. They stepped up in a way that I’m not sure last year’s team could have done in this situation. Now we have to beat Butte Friday and I think these girls are ready for playoffs.”
The Coyote players were looking forward to this game since the schedule came out in early August.
“I came into this season not thinking I was going to play and just be a practice player, but I was eligible and I have looked at every game like, yes, I get another game, because I thought I was done after last season,” Walcott said. “So I’m excited for every game, but this game we have been excited about for a while, back on Aug. 5 when the schedule came out. These are the games that you live for.”
The Coyotes (16-0-4) have one big game remaining on their regular season schedule, at Butte on Friday, Nov. 9, for the Golden Valley Conference title.
Should the Coyotes win, and they expect to do so, they would claim their second consecutive league title.
The home fans should have at least one more opportunity to watch the girls play in the first round of the playoffs. The seeds will be decided early next week.
“The crowd was amazing and reflective of how special this community is,” Evans said. “With just a grassroots effort between myself and assistant Nicole Vandehurst in promoting and organizing the past two weeks, and also with the help of email blasts by LTUSD and STFC, we were able to put together an amazing night of soccer. We can have that atmosphere for every home if we want. We just need to have the desire, support and organization campus-wide and we can turn all of our home games into special events. That is something I’d like to regularly create, but we’re still young and growing and learning how to do it with a unified approach.”