Lake Tahoe CC women’s soccer survives three matches in two days, gains confidence from defeat
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The Lake Tahoe Community College women’s soccer team played a gauntlet of three matches in 29 hours on its home turf last weekend, Sept. 3-4. The Coyotes emerged from the challenging stretch exhausted — but with a new sense of confidence.
“This is totally the confidence boost we need going into conference,” Coyotes sophomore Shawa Guerrero-Escobedo said. “We’re ready to go into the season now — we’re ready to start and we’re ready to win games.”
Lake Tahoe (1-1-2) delivered one of each result in the three games on its home turf — win, tie and loss. The Coyotes’ best performance of the weekend came in defeat, a 2-1 loss against Santa Rosa Junior College (Calif.) on Sunday.
In a losing effort, the Coyotes battled with the Bear Cubs — a perennial Northern California power — to the final whistle. Though the match didn’t go Lake Tahoe’s way, it was an encouraging performance for a team that has playoff aspirations.
“The girls definitely earned some respect from what I think is the best team in Northern California,” LTCC coach Jeremy Evans said. “They have to be happy about that — the gap is a matter of inches, and we have three months to move past that.”
Lake Tahoe trailed 1-0 at halftime after a first 45 minutes that lacked consistent quality. Santa Rosa (4-0) spent most of the first half on the Coyotes’ side of the field, and struck first when Annika Cerini pounced on a rebound in the 32nd minute.
“We started out well, but as we sensed that Santa Rosa was good and they could pressure we got frazzled,” Evans said. “We stopped doing the things we were successful with.”
The Coyotes came out with more confidence after the break, and quickly tied the score. Guerrero-Escobedo took a through ball from freshman Kenya Maltase to get behind the Santa Rosa defense, then coolly beat the keeper with a right-footed finish that made it 1-1 in the 50th minute.
“I was so happy,” Guerrero-Escobedo said. “It was a beautiful ball — we’re such great partners together and it’s really nice playing with each other.”
Defensively, Lake Tahoe was tasked with containing Santa Rosa’s Amanda Galbraith, a talented attacker with speed, moves and a powerful shot. The Coyotes kept Galbraith under wraps for a majority of the second half, but all she needed was a little space — and it came courtesy of what Evans called “the dark arts.”
Swarmed by defenders at the top of the 18-yard box, Galbraith extended an arm that sent Coyotes freshman defender Rebecca Niblett to the ground. Freed from the defensive clamps, Galbraith turned and fired a shot on net — the strike went off the gloves of Yami Jimenez-Ojeda and in for a goal in the 75th minute.
“If she’s not an All-American, I don’t know what an All-American looks like,” Evans said of Galbraith. “We defended her better in the second half, she shook us free a couple times — then on the game-winner I thought she got away with a push-off, but that’s part of the game.”
The Coyotes had chances in the last 15 minutes, but couldn’t pull even. In the last minute of the match, Lake Tahoe had a free kick from 30 yards out — but freshman Marlie Mandaguit’s shot was saved to secure the win for Santa Rosa.
“The effort, battling and positioning was there,” Evans said. “This is all about leading toward a playoff run. I’m confident we can get there this year.”
In its first match Saturday, Lake Tahoe scored four goals in 25 minutes and rolled to a 4-0 win over West Hills College Lemoore (Calif.), with two goals from Maltase and one apiece from Mandaguit and Guerrero-Escobedo. The team’s second match of the day was a 2-2 tie with Mendocino College (Ukiah, Calif.), with goals from Maltase and Guerrero-Escobedo.
“Playing one game is hard enough, and putting three games together in two days was really tough,” Maltase said.
Lake Tahoe focused on fitness leading into the season, and this weekend’s action proves it is paying off. Conditioning sessions with Jeff Merrifield — including a recent jaunt up Tahoe Mountain — has the Coyotes performing at a high level so far.
“Fitness is the motto of our season,” Evans said. “The girls are buying into it and they love Jeff’s stuff even though they probably curse him when he’s working them.”
“If it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t be where we’re at right now,” Guerrero-Escobedo added.
Lake Tahoe returns to action with two road matches in two days starting Friday, Sept. 9. The Coyotes play Diablo Valley College (Pleasant Hill, Calif.) on Friday at 3:30 p.m. and face Ohlone College (Fremont, Calif.) on Saturday, Sept. 10, at 11 a.m. — both teams made the playoffs last season.
“This is our toughest stretch, no doubt,” Evans said. “Hopefully we can respond — I think they’re up for the challenge.”