Lady Coyotes angry at playoff seed, ready for Evergreen Saturday in 1st round
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The Lake Tahoe Community College Lady Coyotes are angry, and maybe that’s a good way to start postseason.
They went through the soccer season undefeated.
They traversed the Golden Valley Conference without even a tie and allowed just one goal.
They received its highest ever national ranking (No. 2) in the United Soccer Coaches Junior College Division III National Poll and were in the top five pretty much throughout the year.
They were No. 5 in the California Community College Sports Information State Poll.
On Tuesday, when the bracket was released for the California Community College Athletic Association Women’s Soccer Regional Championships, the Coyotes were given the No. 5 seed in the 18-team Northern California tournament.
“Mentally we’re ready, physically I think we’re in the shape we can be in at this point and attitude wise, we’re a bit pissed, especially coming in as the fifth seed when we should be No. 2,” said Coyotes sophomore goalkeeper Claudia Janese, of South Lake Tahoe. “But we’re going to take this as a challenge and rise above it and go as far as we can.”
Tahoe was on schedule to be the No. 2 seed, but then tragedy broke out in Northern California with the deadly wildfire and the Coyotes final game of the regular season against Butte was canceled.
Tahoe tried to schedule another game to get those valuable points.
“We wanted to be sensitive and try to reschedule somewhere, we wanted to play another game, but nothing worked out,” said Coyotes head coach Jeremy Evans. “Our conference commissioner has allowed other schools to schedule a game midseason, but he didn’t allow us to do it. We just had to sit idle. My job as a coach to do everything I can to defend, represent and promote my players.”
The Coyotes (16-0-4) will host No. 12 Evergreen Valley (12-6-3) at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16.
Lake Tahoe beat Evergreen 2-0 earlier this season in San Jose with Emily Roberts and Alyssa Williams scoring the goals.
Roberts finished her sensational season as the fourth leading goal scorer in the state (27), setting a Coyotes record, and was sixth in overall points (60).
“They played us tough earlier this season and we’re hopeful playing on our home field brings out the best in us,” Evans said. “We’ll certainly need it to defeat a well-coached EVC squad that won its conference.”
The Coyotes are certainly the favorites Saturday and should beat Evergreen like earlier this year, especially on home turf, but the downgrade in seed will be felt more in that second round/quarterfinals.
With even one seed higher, the Coyotes would have had home field advantage through the first two rounds where they expect to perform better and have their opponents gasping for air.
With a win over Evergreen, Tahoe will likely be on the road Tuesday, Nov. 20, playing at No. 4 Fresno City rather than in the friendly confines on the South Shore.
“We’re excited,” said Coyotes sophomore Annie Brejc, of South Lake Tahoe. “We know we could’ve gotten the second seed, and it really sucks we didn’t, but that doesn’t matter much now. We’re going to put our best foot forward no matter who we play. It just adds fuel to our fire. We have to really go out there and show them we deserved a lot more. We’re the only undefeated team left in California.”
Another positive for the Coyotes is they know they can beat the top seed in the bracket, Sierra (20-1-1).
Tahoe enjoyed the run of play in front of hundreds of fans when the teams tied 1-1 last week in South Lake, and probably should have won 3-1.
“I felt like we had the run of play and the girls felt like they should’ve won,” Evans said.
The crowd at that game may have been one of the largest ever to watch the lady Coyotes. The whole team is hoping they can duplicate that kind of atmosphere Saturday afternoon.
The two teams that reach the regional final will advance to the state tournament.
“Our community is great with support,” Brejc said. “I think there will be a lot of people and a good vibe.”
“I know the atmosphere is going to be ecstatic,” Janese said. “Who doesn’t love playing soccer on this field? I’m hoping a lot of fans come out and support us.”
“It’s always special to host in the playoffs,” Evans said. “It’s a 2 p.m. game rather than at night so it should be a lot warmer, a lot more agreeable. I hope the whole soccer community comes out, because with the bracket now, this is probably going to be our only chance to host. This is the last time our community can see this group and it is a special group. I don’t know if I’ll have a team this talented again.”