South Tahoe girls soccer beats Truckee for Div. I-A Northern Region championship, advances to state
ELKO, Nev. — At the Div. I-A Northern Region tournament, the South Tahoe girls soccer team delivered a championship while taking the next toward its ultimate goal. The second-seeded Vikings downed top-seeded Truckee 1-0 in the regional championship at Adobe Middle School on Saturday, Nov. 7, capturing the crown by beating their rival for the first time this season.
“To beat Truckee after not beating them in the first two and losing regionals to them last year was huge,” Vikings coach Mark Salmon said. “It’s a confidence boost for the girls — they knew they could beat Truckee, but this proves that they can.”
In the regional title match, South Tahoe (17-2-3) beat the league champions with a 65th-minute strike from Kenya Maltase. The senior hit a free kick from the top of the box that deflected off a Truckee defender and into the back of the net for the lone goal of the match.
“We were in and Truckee was in, so it was a little bit more relaxing coming into that game,” Salmon said. “It’s intense anyway, but I thought both teams played sloppy soccer — there wasn’t a lot of possession.”
The Vikings put their four fastest players on the back line to deal with the speed and counterattacking ability of Truckee (17-7-1) — including freshman Lillie McGuire. That lineup change along with moving Samantha Frates to a defensive midfield role helped South Tahoe control play in its third meeting with the Wolverines.
“This is the next biggest trophy in our season,” Salmon said. “It was huge and it boosts our confidence going into state.”
South Tahoe advanced to the championship and earned a state tournament berth with a 5-2 win over sixth-seeded Spring Creek on Friday, Nov. 6. The Vikings held off the Spartans throughout the regional semifinal match, and closed it out with a pair of goals in the last 10 minutes.
“We were nervous against Spring Creek because we knew they would have a big group of spectators — pretty raucous parents that are very vocal,” Salmon said. “They came to play and played with a lot of heart, but I don’t think the result was in question.”
Maltase opened the scoring with a penalty kick in the 25th minute, after having a goal called back for offsides early in the match. Shortly after, Ana Garcia crossed a ball into Maltase and she laid it off for Grace Schouten — Schouten easily put it away to put South Tahoe up 2-0 in the 27th minute.
The Vikings held that lead until just before halftime, when a defensive miscue allowed Spring Creek to make it 2-1. Four minutes into the second half, Maltase converted her second penalty kick to stretch the Vikings’ advantage to two goals — she finished with three goals and an assist in South Tahoe’s two regional matches.
“In the second half of the season, she’s taken more of a leadership role, and recognized that big players step up in big games and that the girls look to her,” Salmon said of Maltase. “That’s exactly what we expected from her and she definitely delivered.”
Spring Creek made it 3-2 in the 63rd minute on Linsey Bessert’s second goal of the match, but couldn’t even the score as South Tahoe pulled away. Emma Dayberry scored off a cross from Annie Brejc in the 71st minute, and seven minutes later Frates hit a 25-yard free kick to punctuate the Vikings’ victory.
South Tahoe won the Div. I-A regional championship despite missing senior captains Zoe D’Angelo and Molly Jaggard, both out with season-ending injuries. The Vikings also battled chilly conditions and played on a firm surface during their two-day run to the title.
“They needed to see that they could win without some key players — missing our two senior captains on the back line has been difficult,” Salmon said. “It shows perseverance of the group and the depth of our team to still go up there and bring this home.”
The two-time defending state champion Vikings advance to the Div. I-A State tournament, which will be contested on its home field at Viking Stadium on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 13-14. The Vikings earned the North’s top seed and will play South second seed Spring Valley (Las Vegas) (14-4-3) at 4 p.m. on Friday.
“It’s exciting, it’s unbelievable and all the girls are besides themselves about it,” Salmon said. “It gives us a chance to fill the stands like we’ve never seen for a soccer match in South Lake Tahoe.”
North second seed Truckee faces South regional champion Faith Lutheran (Las Vegas) (18-6-2) in the first semifinal Friday at noon. The Div. I-A State championship will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. — South Tahoe has won back-to-back state titles and finished atop the state in four of the past five seasons.
“I think the girls will step up and recognize that this is the chance of a lifetime,” Salmon said.