South Tahoe girls soccer rides big second half past Sparks 6-1 |

South Tahoe girls soccer rides big second half past Sparks 6-1

Anthony Gentile
South Tahoe midfielder Emma Dayberry cuts inside a Sparks defender on Saturday, Sept. 26, at Vikings Stadium.
Anthony Gentile / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — It didn’t take the South Tahoe girls soccer team long on Saturday, Sept. 26, to recover from a sluggish start. Two minutes, to be exact.

The Vikings erased a halftime deficit against Sparks with a pair of goals in the first two minutes of the second half en route to a 6-1 victory at Viking Stadium. The win extended South Tahoe’s unbeaten streak to six games to start league play.

“It’s good to see that they can do that against a pretty decent team — put up that many goals that quickly,” Vikings head coach Mark Salmon said. “It’s nice to be able to get that kind of goal production.”

South Tahoe (5-1-2, 5-0-1 I-A Northern) trailed 1-0 at halftime after a frustrating first half. Sparks (4-2-2, 4-2) opened the scoring in the fifth minute on a goal from Juanita Lopez, and the Railroaders held that lead throughout the opening 40 minutes while the Vikings struggled to create meaningful possession.

“After the first goal, we went down a little bit,” Vikings forward Kenya Maltase said. “We weren’t putting our passes together and we weren’t really talking.”

Less than a minute after the second-half kickoff, Desi Benavidez put home a cross from Annie Brejc with a smooth one-touch finish to even the score. And a minute later, South Tahoe had its first lead of the match.

“After Desi got her first goal, we knew we were going to have a good half,” Maltase said. “It was fun to be out there, and we actually felt like we were a team.”

Shortly after the ensuing kickoff Brejc sent a through ball past the Sparks defense to put Maltase in a one-on-one situation, and the senior calmly chipped the Railroaders’ goalkeeper to make it 2-1. The Vikings scored two goals in two minutes to take the lead, and they were suddenly back on track.

“They were getting in with numbers,” Salmon said. “We were looking to cross the ball and not play so direct — we got the ball out wide.”

In the 58th minute, Maltase added a second goal by finishing a cross from Brejc at close range. The dynamic sophomore assisted on South Tahoe’s first three goals in the second half, making plays from the left wing despite nursing an ankle injury — she has a team-high seven assists this season.

“She’s a baller,” Maltase said. “Annie is a playmaker and definitely a solid point of this team. I’m glad to have her as a teammate.”

The Vikings scored two goals in two minutes later in the second half to put the game out of reach. Bailee Salmon hit a 30-yard blast in the 61st minute to make it 4-1 and then assisted on a goal from Emma Dayberry a minute later — Benavidez capped the scoring in the 75th minute.

“We were pumped and we were ready to win,” Maltase said.

South Tahoe has been held scoreless in half of its first six league matches, and trailed at halftime against both Elko and Sparks. The Vikings have come back from each of their halftime deficits in league play, but don’t plan to make a habit out of slow starts.

“I hope they learn from this and build out of it — learn to not panic the next time it happens,” Salmon said. “Knocking it around is great, but sometimes it’s just too slow. Let’s get the goals early and not making it so interesting.”

South Tahoe returns to action at league-leading Truckee (7-5, 6-0) on Wednesday, Sept. 30. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m.

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