South Tahoe girls win in double overtime, advance to state title game
SPARKS, Nevada — Zoey Fiston scored the golden goal that may have been heard miles away.
The South Tahoe senior gained possession of the soccer ball, turned her defender, went to her left foot and lofted a shot into the top right corner of the net, perfectly placed, just out of reach of the Sunrise Mountain keeper for the game-winning goal in double overtime Friday, Nov. 10, at Spanish Springs High School.
The whipping wind probably carried the Vikings celebration screams throughout Northern Nevada. Players on the Vikings bench charged onto the field and everybody mobbed Fiston.
Over 100 hundred fans, who traveled the 90 minutes, stomped on the aluminum bleachers and let out a large roar. The fans also made it seem like a home game. They chanted “here we go Vikings here we go,” on and off throughout.
The Vikings defeated Sunrise Mountain 3-2 and earned a spot in the state 3A championship game that takes place at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 11 on the same field.
“I got the ball, turned outside and put it on my left foot and hoped for the best,” Fiston said. “After it went in, it was crazy. It was wild. It feels amazing.”
It was almost poetic justice for Fiston who had a few scoring chances, but one in particular came moments earlier when she missed from close range.
“It’s fitting for Zoey today,” said Vikings head coach Mark Salmon, who also charged onto the field to celebrate with his players. “There were times where we were wondering if she was tired because we were asking a lot out of her. She had some chances, but when it mattered most, she got it done. The way she turned that defender and got it onto her left foot to put it up and over the goalie was incredible. It’s huge to see that senior have that moment.”
The Vikings were fortunate. Three minutes into the first overtime, Sunrise Mountain appeared to score the winning goal. The Vikings immediately were distraught. But the goal was waved off after the side judge called offside. The Vikings went from being absolutely crushed to having another chance.
“The game couldn’t have been more interesting,” Salmon said. “It was nerves and it showed. We have a young team. Our energy was good coming into the game and I didn’t think we were nervous but you could see it in the first 40 minutes. They just didn’t have our normal composure. But the sign of a championship team is to come back and persevere. To go to double OT last year and to do it again, after we kinda lost the game it looked like, it’s unbelievable the way the girls keep it together.”
Sunrise Mountain scored late in the first half to take the lead at the break. The second half was all Vikings for the most part. They controlled most of the possession and looked like they could’ve scored five goals.
South Tahoe equalized with 21 minutes left in regulation with a senior-to-senior connection. Bailey Segers lofted a high corner kick that Samantha Frates put in with her shoulder.
“I saw the ball coming, and most people probably thought it hit my head, but it actually hit my shoulder and I fell forward which blocked it from the other girl getting it and it fell inside the post,” said Frates, who played forward instead of her usual role in the central defensive backfield. “It was exhilarating! I finally scored on a corner, which is my job. It definitely gave us the wave we needed.”
But just moments later, Sunrise’s Alexandra Trinidad scored her second goal of the game. She also scored what looked like the game-winner in overtime before it was waved off.
But the Vikings didn’t seem to think anything of that goal, they kept attacking and it was Trinidad who made a key mistake that led to South Tahoe again equalizing.
Trinidad had her arms hooked with a Viking player and ended up throwing her to the ground, which drew a yellow card and a free kick.
South Tahoe freshman Kelsey Hogan stepped up and drilled a low liner from about 30 yards that hit the grassy, clumpy, turf just before the goalie and took an almost awkward hop up over her head as she was diving for the ball.
The Vikings attacked for the final six minutes but couldn’t win it in regulation.
With the overtime win, the Vikings are looking forward to Saturday’s big game.
“I’m so excited for tomorrow,” Frates said. “We really came together and pulled it out in the last second. Zoey got the golden goal and we had two seniors score, it was awesome.”
The Vikings are expecting rival Truckee to be their opponent in the state championship game. The Wolverines played Pahrump Valley later on the same field and the result was not available by press deadline.
“It’s definitely time to play Truckee again, I’m so hungry for that,” Fiston said.
The Vikings have yet to be Truckee this season, tying 1-1 in the first contest, losing 2-1 in the second and 4-0 just days ago in the 3A northern region final.
“This is the same situation as the regional championship,” Salmon said. “There should be no nerves at this point. We should just leave it out there on the field. We’ve played Truckee three times, so we know them. We’re the underdogs coming in and everything is on our side, hopefully the girls go out and get it done.”
“We’re gonna need a whole lot of what just happened out there today,” Frates said of beating Truckee. “No little breakdowns or dumb mistakes and we can do it.”