South Tahoe girls soccer loses at rival Truckee 2-1, sees match as ‘turning point’
TRUCKEE, Calif. — The first meeting between South Tahoe and Truckee girls soccer teams didn’t result in a win for the Vikings. But in defeat against its rival, South Tahoe delivered its best performance of the season.
The Vikings lost 2-1 to the Wolverines on the road in a 3A Northern League showdown Wednesday, Sept. 21. South Tahoe gave up goals early in each half, and a two-goal deficit proved too much to overcome — but the positives ultimately outweighed a negative result.
“The girls came off with smiles. They never smile when we lose, but they knew and they could feel it,” Vikings coach Mark Salmon said. “This was a turning point for us.”
South Tahoe (2-4, 2-2 3A Northern) got off to a slow start in the opening minutes of Wednesday’s match. Truckee (6-0, 5-0) began in the opposite fashion, and put the Vikings in an early hole courtesy of a strike from Ava Seelenfreund in the seventh minute.
“Truckee came out very dangerous and we were on our heels,” Salmon said. “We put ourselves in these situations — we start off slow — and they were getting a lot of opportunities.”
Truckee took a one-goal advantage into the break, and capitalized on a South Tahoe mistake early in the second half to make it 2-0. The Vikings misplayed a ball in the back, and it led to a goal from Amber Simonpietri in the 45th minute.
Similar to the first half, South Tahoe settled in and controlled possession after giving up an early score. The Vikings generated numerous chances, and got their lone goal of the match on a shot from junior Samantha Frates in the 65th minute — a sequence that began when the ball dropped to her 25 yards from the net.
“She put so much pace on the ball that it just blew through the keeper’s hands,” Salmon said. “The keeper could have made the save, but it was a knuckleball on a rope and too difficult to control.”
The Vikings had a majority of the chances in the last 15 minutes, but couldn’t pull even. With five minutes left, South Tahoe’s best opportunity to tie the match came on a free kick that Frates bent into the Truckee box.
“We had three players on the back post that all ran over the ball,” Salmon said. “I thought it was the equalizer — hands were going in the air because we had so many bodies in the right spot.”
In the end, South Tahoe came up short on the scoreboard to drop its second straight league contest following a disappointing loss at Incline a week earlier. The Vikings’ hadn’t lost two league matches in a season in the previous past five years — but see this stretch as one that will shape their 2016 campaign in a positive way.
“We got together as a team, bonded, talked, worked things out, and came in with a positive attitude, new game plan and new mindset for this match,” Salmon said. “And I like that we lost again because it left even more.”
Increased depth was the Vikings’ main reason for optimism following their loss at Truckee. That included 70 minutes from senior Maria Martinez at left back, who largely contained Seelenfreund while initiating South Tahoe’s attack.
“Maria played lights out,” Salmon said. “She’s been a utility player and hasn’t found a home — and I think she’s locked in at left back. She was the player of the game and was beaming.”
Other subs that delivered critical minutes Wednesday included junior Jocelyn Barajas at forward, junior Lulu Gutierrez at center midfield and sophomore Riley Turner at right back. South Tahoe needs a deeper bench for bigger matches, and took a big step toward that against the undefeated Wolverines.
“The goal is to jell at the right time of the season,” Salmon said. “I’d rather start off slow and get it cleaned up when it matters most.”
South Tahoe returned to action at home Friday, Sept. 23, against Elko at 5 p.m. The Vikings host Spring Creek at Viking Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 24 — kickoff is scheduled for 10 a.m.