Prescott, Norton send Vikings into semis
RENO Ð After 110 minutes of intense playoff soccer had ended in deadlock, the South Tahoe High girls’ soccer team and Spanish Springs resorted to the only remaining possibility – a penalty-kick shootout. Fortunately for the Vikings, they had Candace Prescott on their side.
Prescott, a senior goalkeeper, blocked four of the Cougars’ shots, while Bree Norton buried the Vikings’ fifth attempt to send South Tahoe to the Northern 4A regional tournament semifinals with a 2-1 shootout win in a first-round match on Friday night at Damonte Ranch High School.
“I had never done that before, but I look forward to shootouts,” Prescott said. “I learned a new way to judge the ball, and I stuck with it. I would’ve rather our team scored and not to go shootouts, but I am 100 percent confident with them.”
Top-seeded South Tahoe (21-2) will play third-seeded Douglas in the regional semifinals on Wednesday night at 6 at Damonte Ranch. High Desert League regular season champion Reed will face McQueen in the other semifinal at 4 p.m.
The Vikings, though, nearly didn’t get there after facing an inspired Spanish Springs squad.
“I am relieved that we got through it after maybe coming out too confident and believing that we were already there, in the championship game,” said second-year STHS coach Clint Lockhart, who had split with Spanish Springs in two earlier meetings this season. “I think the girls will learn from this game.”
South Tahoe senior striker Tess Braun scored her 13th goal of the season in the 41st minute when she drilled a 30-yard shot that bounced off the cross bar and deflected off the back of the Cougars’ goalie before ending up in the net. But the Vikings’ 1-0 lead didn’t seem safe.
In an eight-minute span following Braun’s goal, the Cougars’ speedy attacking players Carly Pengelly and Shaylor Francom both had shots hit the post. Then in the 73rd minute, the Cougars finally got their equalizer when Pengelly rocketed a shot that was partially saved by Prescott, then trickled across the goal line for a 1-1 tie.
Four minutes later, Spanish Springs nearly recorded the game-winning goal in regulation when Lara Voss collected a through ball from Pengelly and had a 1-on-1 with Prescott. Voss, though, pushed her shot wide to the right.
It was a tense time for the unbeaten Sierra League champion Vikings, though they seemed to settle down once the game entered the first overtime. However, neither team mustered any decent chances in the two 15-minute overtime periods, allowing the game to be decided on penalty kicks.
Since Prescott blocked four shots, it didn’t take much for the Vikings to win. Alli Fox converted her shot and Norton, who was the fifth and final kicker with the shootout tied 1-1, fired a shot into the roof of the net to extend the Vikings’ current win streak to 18 games.
The Vikings tackled Norton and Prescott in celebration, and the team’s quest for its first regional title since 1996 continues.
“I just wanted to be confident and pick a spot and stick with it,” Norton said. “We have been going over PKs in practice … it paid off. The coaches told us to stare down the goalie and show that you have no fear. That’s what I did.”