LTCC men’s soccer eliminated by West Valley in NorCal second round
SARATOGA, Calif. — In the second round of the CCCAA NorCal Regional playoffs, the Lake Tahoe Community College men’s soccer team couldn’t produce the shootout heroics necessary to keep its inaugural season alive. The sixth-seeded Coyotes lost at third-seeded West Valley College 4-2 in penalty kicks last Tuesday after the teams finished regulation and overtime tied 1-1.
“It was a very tough game and by far the best team that we saw all year — we all said that it would take a very good team to beat us,” Coyotes head coach Ben Wade said. “Penalty kicks are one of the most exciting ways to win a soccer match and one of the most agonizing ways to lose.”
In the shootout, Lake Tahoe (14-5-3) missed kicks in the first and fourth rounds. West Valley (17-1-4) converted each of its first four kicks to advance and end the Coyotes’ season.
“We had chances and took over the match in overtime,” Wade said. “We really believed that we could win, so for us to lose in penalties was very disheartening — the guys were pretty tearful after the defeat.”
Lake Tahoe trailed 1-0 at halftime after West Valley forward Emmanuel Montion opened the scoring in the 37th minute. The Coast South Conference champion Vikings ran a 4-4-2 formation with a diamond in the midfield that required a shift in tactics for the Coyotes.
“They’re a very dynamic team and they play an interesting formation that is hard to defend against — we tried to match up as best we could with that tactically,” Wade said. “It was back and forth in the first half — they definitely had their chances and we had ours.”
Shortly after halftime, Lake Tahoe pulled even. Coyotes forward Jerrell Cato scored off a corner kick to make it 1-1 in the 49th minute, and afterward LTCC began to slowly take control of the match.
“I knew that they were going to come back and tie it,” Wade said. “I knew we would have our chances, it was just a matter of us trying to execute on those chances, playing good defense and trying to get another goal.”
The Coyotes had their chances in the second half and both overtime periods, but were unable to get a second goal. In the shootout, Lake Tahoe couldn’t replicate the consistency it showed in its first round playoff win.
“It was an emotional roller coaster for us in that moment, and it was hard for the guys to stay focused,” Wade said. “We missed that first PK, and that settled the score.”
Lake Tahoe and West Valley met in the regular season and played to a 0-0 draw at LTCC. The postseason rematch between the teams was just as even.
“It was a great opponent and a worthy opponent — everybody said they were the best team in the north, and we went toe-to-toe with them for 120 minutes,” Wade said. “The way that went out — we can’t hang our head. We proved this year that we’re one of the best teams in the state.”
The defeat brought and end to a historic first season for the LTCC men’s soccer program. The Coyotes knocked off defending state champion Hartnell College in their first-ever match, and earned state and national acclaim on the way to a Golden Valley Conference championship.
“It’s bittersweet that it’s over with — it’s sweet because we can look back and reflect on a great season with so many great wins,” Wade said. “It was a storied season with great memories.
“We had a great run, a great year and we’re all disappointed. We wish we were still going and we can’t believe it’s over with.”
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