Lake Tahoe Community College Lady Coyotes advance to final four
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — On a near freezing night, Emily Roberts was on fire.
The freshman from Mammoth Lakes, Calif., is enjoying a mammoth season while helping re-write the record books for the Lake Tahoe Community College women’s soccer program.
Roberts scored two goals, Madison Boyd and Valerie Sue Meyer led a suffocating defensive effort, and the No. 5 Coyotes beat No. 13 West Valley 2-0 Tuesday to reach the final four of the California Community College Athletic Association Women’s Soccer Regional Championships.
“We came out strong,” Roberts said postgame. “We knew this was an important game and we knew we had to play well. We knew we had to bring it.”
The Coyotes will play No. 1 Sierra at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24, for a spot in the regional championship and also a berth in the state tournament final four at Ventura College in Southern California.
The Coyotes tied Sierra 1-1 on home turf two weeks ago and could’ve won that game 3-1.
Lake Tahoe eclipsed last year’s record march to the quarterfinals and now has gone where no Coyotes’ team has been before: to the regional Final Four.
“I’m so excited,” Roberts said. “We play Sierra Saturday and I think we can beat them. We just need to go in strong and play a full 90 minutes. We can’t let up because they are a good team.”
The Coyotes got ahead early Tuesday but did let up.
Roberts scored her first goal six minutes into the game. She ran onto a pass from Isabella Wakeling, of Carson City, and drove upfield uncontested and was several feet into the box before lofting a right-footed shot up and over the keeper for a 1-0 lead that would last into halftime.
“I just ran down the field and saw an open net and knew we needed a goal,” Roberts said. “I just shot it and went crazy. It felt amazing.”
But then Lake Tahoe kind of checked out for the rest of the half.
“Overall, I thought it was a dominating performance,” said Coyotes head coach Jeremy Evans. “My objective for them was to win the first 15 minutes, and we did that, and then we forgot to play the next 30 minutes in the first half. We got the goal I feel we deserved and then we had a lull. At halftime, we had to remind them that this game was not over, that West Valley is a very good team.”
In the second half, the temperature dropped. The outside space heaters next to the players’ benches were likely not much comfort for West Valley as the Coyotes dominated the last 45 minutes.
Anytime West Valley attempted a run with a long pass at Lake Tahoe’s goal, center backs Meyer and Boyd would speed to the ball and clear it away before it moved into the danger zone.
At no time did West Valley threaten to tie the game, much less get a shot on goal.
After the game, goalkeeper Claudia Janese didn’t go through the post-game cool down with her team. She was hovering at the space heater trying to warm her frozen body from the lack of action.
“Our strength is our center backs and goalkeeper,” Evans said. “Madison and Valerie, you are just not getting in behind them. Well, you can, but if you do, it’s only going to happen once or twice a game and you better find a way. And if they do find a way, they have to go up against Claudia. Our defense is really solid, I mean we score a lot of goals, most in a season ever, but the reality is the defense is the heart of our team and I’ve always said two is our magic number. I don’t know if there is a team in the state, unless we make mistakes or off corner kicks, that can score two or more goals against our back line. I say that, and obviously it can happen. We’re not going to be perfect every game, but I think they were solid again tonight and when they are solid, we’re tough to beat.”
Roberts’ second goal was a thing of beauty and the play started way back.
Colorado native Lauren Wolcott gathered a pass near midfield and drove upfield with Roberts sprinting alongside. Wolcott cut inside and fed Roberts a perfect pass near the penalty box.
Roberts gave the ball a touch, put it on her left foot and looked up.
“Lauren gave me a beautiful ball in and I saw the net and saw the keeper,” Roberts said. “It was all a rush. I was pretty nervous. I was thinking don’t hit the keeper, just place this ball, we need this and the next thing I knew it was in the back of the net.”
Roberts unloaded a rocket shot that nearly took off the head of West Valley’s keeper.
The goalie had no chance to react. The ball sizzled just above her right shoulder and narrowly missed her head before burning into the net.
Roberts scored her 29th and 30th goals of the season, further extending her record year. She broke the previous mark of 22 and has a chance at setting the two-year goal total (33) set by Rosaura Guerrero-Escobedo in 2015-16 in just one season.
“I thought the second goal was going to be the one because they were very tight and compact and giving us problems,” Evans said. “I told them we had to switch up the point of attack. We’ve gotta switch from left to right. Then the gaps will open up going forward. I thought we did that in the second half and we finally got the goal and it opened up from there. I also rotated in some girls too because we have a big game on Saturday.”
The Coyotes (18-0-4) posted their 17th shutout and 18th win of the season — both are program records.