Lake Tahoe CC men’s soccer rides fast start past Santa Rosa 3-2 in CCCAA second round, advances to regional finals
CCCAA Men’s Soccer Third Round
(4) Lake Tahoe CC vs. (8) Feather River
Saturday, Nov. 28, 2 p.m. at LTCC
SANTA ROSA, Calif. — The Lake Tahoe Community College men’s soccer team rode a fast start on Tuesday, Nov. 24, to take its program to new heights. The fifth-seeded Coyotes knocked off fourth-seeded Santa Rosa Junior College 3-2 on the road in the second round of the CCCAA NorCal Regional playoffs, advancing to the regional finals with a wild victory.
“These boys are proving that they can not only win big games, but also stay composed when teams start to build momentum,” Coyotes coach Nick Arbelaez said. “It was nice to see these guys go into a pretty hostile place and win. It was a crazy, crazy game.”
Lake Tahoe (17-4-2) scored three first-half goals in Tuesday’s match dominated by heavy winds to take a commanding 3-0 lead into the break. Courtney Lewis opened the scoring in the ninth minute, heading in a corner kick from Ivan Rodriguez to put the Coyotes up early.
“It was pretty shocking,” Arbelaez said. “We have a team that’s capable of that, but to be that composed in a hostile environment was nice.”
Rodriguez extended LTCC’s lead in the 26th minute when he sent in a free kick that was deflected into goal. Just before halftime, Carlos Trujeque capped the Coyotes’ first-half onslaught by taking a pass from Jerrell Cato and firing a shot into the left corner of the net.
“That ultimately led to us winning the game,” Arbelaez said. “We started fast and weathered the storm.”
When the first-half whistle sounded, Golden Valley Conference champion Lake Tahoe was three up on Big 8 Conference champ Santa Rosa (16-3-2). In the second half, the Coyotes had to survive a furious comeback attempt from the host Bear Cubs.
“We didn’t get complacent, but we knew they were going to come with quite a bit of an attack in the second half,” Arbelaez said.
Santa Rosa scored twice in the first nine minutes of the second half to quickly make the game 3-2. The Bear Cubs had the momentum and control of the match when Lake Tahoe caught a unexpected break.
LTCC defender Jack Larter fell on his arm in the 67th minute, resulting in an injury that caused a lengthy delay. From there, Lake Tahoe regrouped and held off Santa Rosa for the historic victory.
“The boys showed a lot of resilience and we made changes when we needed it,” Arbelaez said. “It came down to fitness at the end. We were just much more fit than they were.”
The Coyotes went to a more defensive formation and limited the Bear Cubs to one scoring chance while clinging to a one-goal lead. After roughly 11 minutes of stoppage time, Lake Tahoe secured the win that advanced them a round further than the inaugural 2014 team.
“Santa Rosa was extremely talented,” Arbelaez said. “They were by far the best team we played all year.”
Lake Tahoe will meet a familiar foe in the third round of the regional playoffs — conference rival Feather River College (Quincy, Calif.), who it split with in the regular season. The Coyotes and eighth-seeded Golden Eagles (15-5-1) play at LTCC Saturday, Nov. 28 at 2 p.m., with the winner moving on to the CCCAA State final four.
“We’re battled tested and ready for Saturday,” Arbelaez said. “We split with these guys, and a rubber match is always about who plays more consistently for 90 minutes.
“The chance to clinch and go to the final four on our home field is pretty special.”