Playoffs begin one game early for Warriors |

Playoffs begin one game early for Warriors

Michael Traum

While the Northern Nevada 3A boys state soccer playoffs don’t begin until next week, do-or-die begins this Saturday for the Whittell High club.

The Warriors travel to Incline for a noon-time showdown. Both teams are 6-3. The winner will earn the fourth-and-final state berth.

“There is no next week. You hate it, but you also like it. We’re looking at having to go 7-3 in league to make the playoffs. That’s the tough part, but we also like the fact that it’s in our hands,” said Whittell coach Steve Maltase, whose team needs to post a win or tie to advance. “I’d rather have it be this way. We play better when the pressure is on. Our guys have come through in the clutch situations. They’re loose and know what they have to do.”

Whittell downed their archrival Highlanders, 2-0, in a scrimmage earlier this season. Even though Incline didn’t field a complete team due to vacation, Maltase said he’s confident that his squad, which was also down in numbers, should win when both teams meet at full strength.

“We clearly outplayed them on that day. But with their key players, it could be a real tight game,” he said. “They’re our school rival team, so you can always count on a tough game. We’re confident and playing the way we want to play right now. If we continue to play at that pace, we shouldn’t have any problem.”

Whittell is peaking at a good time, having won 10 of their past 11 contests. And with just four contests standing between the Warriors and a state title, the coach is hoping his boys will rise to the challenge.

“We still haven’t played our best game of soccer,” he said. “When we get the opportunities, we need to capitalize. And we can get our overall execution down a bit better. But we’re to the point where we can put together 80 minutes. We’re looking for a battle.”

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