Lady Vikings soccer again forced to settle for 2nd place at state
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — South Tahoe was hoping this would be the year to win the school’s first state soccer championship in several years.
The Lady Vikings went through the Northern League unbeaten, they didn’t lose for three months, and looked like the better team much of the time on Saturday during the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Class 3A Soccer State Championship game on a rough field at Wooster High School in Reno.
But Truckee knows titles and South Tahoe was left to digest yet another bitter serving of second place.
The Wolverines scored early, and late, on two magical touches and defeated the Vikings 2-0 for their fourth consecutive state championship, the last three years at South Tahoe’s expense.
Most of the fans had yet to enter the facility by kickoff at 11 a.m. and most missed Truckee score the first goal in the first 5 minutes of the game.
Truckee junior Taya Matt had a ball fall to her feet off a corner kick and grounded a left-footed shot through defenders and into the bottom right corner of the net.
“I don’t mind losing when a team beats you, but it didn’t feel that way today,” said Vikings head coach Mark Salmon. “I thought we were the better team. I think it was a bad call early to give them the corner. It put us on our heels. But hats off to Truckee, four straight state titles is special. They find a way to get it done. I can’t always say they are the best team every year, but they find a way to win.”
The scoring chances were minimal for both teams the rest of the first half. Each team put a couple of solid shots on frame, that were easily fielded by the keepers.
South Tahoe held much of the possession, but couldn’t generate quality chances in the final third.
The score remained 1-0 at halftime.
“There was no concern at all at halftime,” Salmon said. “We had the run of play and were getting some looks.”
The Vikings plan coming out of halftime was to get that equalizer in the first 5 minutes. And they controlled the first part of the second half, but couldn’t find the net.
With about 15 minutes left, the Vikings were applying heavy pressure.
The shifty Marley Befu was one of the best players on the field for either team. The Vikings midfielder put a serious shot on net with about 12 minutes left that was stopped.
Then with about 11 minutes left, South Tahoe star, and leading scorer, Kelsey Hogan broke free near the penalty box boundary, took a touch then launched a left-footed liner headed for the right side of the net.
It looked like a sure equalizer, but Truckee goalkeeper dove to her left, was parallel with the turf, and got just a finger on the shot. The touch was just enough to deflect the ball and send it bouncing wide of the post.
“Kelsey had a nice look there at the end and their keeper got just a finger on it, enough to make it go wide,” Salmon said. “Otherwise, we have the equalizer and we didn’t have to go to the shape we went to in the last 11 minutes.”
The Vikings in the final 11 minutes pushed forward and Truckee was able to put the game out of reach with about 6 minutes remaining.
Sami Orozco acquired a free ball and lofted a left-footed up and over Tahoe’s keeper from about 20 yards and into the net. It was a great touch in a clutch moment.
“I thought we had possession for a lot of the game,” said Hogan. “Truckee is a really good team, the team that always beats us in the finals, but today I felt we deserved to win. But it happens, they had two amazing shots and … it just happens. We couldn’t do much about it.”
Salmon liked his team’s effort and would rather have the result from Saturday than last year when they were ahead 3-1 before losing 4-3.
“I’m really proud of the girls today, they left it out on the field and they played with a ton of heart and that’s all you can ask for as a coach,” Salmon said. “I think we were unlucky in the greatest sense of the word.”
Notes: The field conditions for the state championships were not ideal. The NIAA had the teams play on a grassy field that was uneven with indentations, and the dimensions were smaller than what they have played on this season. It was also covered in goose droppings and a baseball infield infringed on about 40 feet of the playing surface. The pitch was bordered on two sides by roads just feet away and on one side was about 200 paces away from roaring Interstate 580. Most of the few hundred fans stood because there was not enough seating. … South Tahoe beat and tied Truckee in their first two meetings of the season but Truckee won the final two clashes in the northern regional tournament and at state.