Lake Tahoe CC men’s soccer delivers in ‘make or break’ match, downs De Anza 2-1 on home turf
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The Lake Tahoe Community College men’s soccer team viewed its match Saturday, Sept. 12, as a contest that would determine its fate for the rest of the season. And against nationally ranked De Anza College (Cupertino, Calif.), the Coyotes delivered a crucial 2-1 result for their first home win in 2015.
“We told the guys before the game that this was going to make or break the season,” Coyotes head coach Ben Wade said. “If we didn’t step up today, in the long run we never were going to.”
Lake Tahoe (3-3) broke a halftime tie early in the second half, taking advantage of a foul in the box to score the go-ahead goal. After Alberto Asencio was tripped in the box on a Coyotes’ cross, Michael Akin stepped to the spot and coolly finished a penalty kick that made it 2-1 in the 48th minute.
“I was mentally visualizing it all night, along with other stuff on the field,” the sophomore forward from Enfield, England said. “I was always going to go down the middle or to the right — I gave the keeper the eyes and put it the other way.”
From there, the Coyotes controlled play and saw out the victory. De Anza (3-1) had four solid chances in the last 10 minutes of the match — including a 77th-minute goal negated by a foul — but LTCC goalkeeper Victor Andrades made the plays in net to keep the hosts in front.
“Within our team we all have the technical ability to be great players, but mentally we weren’t coming together,” Akin said. “We spent a lot of time strengthening ourselves mentally and it showed today.”
Late in the first half, both teams traded goals on set pieces. Lake Tahoe struck first in the 38th minute when Ivan Rodriguez sent a low cross into the Dons box and Gabriel Barbosa put it away; the defender fired a volley into the back of the net to make it 1-0.
“The momentum shifted five minutes before the half was over and it was a good maturity point to realize why it happened,” Wade said. “At that point, it kind of came unraveled and the ref gave a silly foul.”
A foul just outside the Coyotes’ box gave De Anza a free kick in the 43rd minute, and Francisco Ayala hit a low shot into the right corner of the net. Lake Tahoe struck quickly after the break, and held on to hand the Dons their first loss of the season.
“This is the start to take our team forward,” Akin said. “We were really looking for this win, and we came out and we found it.”
For Lake Tahoe, Saturday’s match marked the last of four non-conference contests against opponents that appeared in the NSCAA Junior College Div. III preseason rankings. The 18th-ranked Coyotes knocked off eighth-ranked De Anza and second-ranked defending state champion Cerritos College (Norwalk, Calif.) with losses against No. 14 Hartnell College (Salinas, Calif.) and No. 18 Fresno City College (Calif.).
“It’s been relatively tough,” Akin said. “It’s been a tight schedule of fixtures, but we’ve adjusted. We’re used to it now and there’s no reason we should lose again.”
The Coyotes’ first six games featured three against teams that appeared in last year’s NorCal Regional semifinals. And in the last of those matches on Saturday, Lake Tahoe delivered its top performance of the young season.
“I see the emotional maturity of this team as we leave this game,” Wade said. “We relied on guys that we hadn’t relied on before, and they stepped up.”
Lake Tahoe returns to action at home Saturday, Sept. 19, against West Hills Community College (Coalinga, Calif.) at 1 p.m. Two days later, the Coyotes host Lassen Community College (Susanville, Calif.) at 1 p.m.