South Tahoe girls soccer stunned by Western 2-1 in 3A State semifinals, season ends in sudden-death devastation
LAS VEGAS — A bad bounce led to a breakaway that resulted in a sudden-death goal in double overtime of the 3A State semifinals Friday, Nov. 11. For the South Tahoe girls soccer team, it was sequence that brought its season to a devastating conclusion.
“It’s beyond devastation,” Vikings coach Mark Salmon said. “This game is so brutal sometimes.”
Northern second seed South Tahoe fell to Southern top seed Western (Las Vegas) 2-1 in the state semifinals Friday night at Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex. Three minutes into the second overtime, the Vikings’ season came to an abrupt end when Warriors senior Ellyson Reynada found the back of the net on a breakaway.
“I cannot believe we just lost this game,” Salmon said shortly after the game. “It’s so hard to swallow.”
The sequence that led to the game-winning goal started when Western (16-4-4) played a long ball to midfield in the direction of Reynada, the team’s leading scorer. The ball skipped off the ground under Vikings sophomore Lillie McGuire to start a counter attack — and eventually ended South Tahoe’s season in crushing fashion.
“We put ourselves in that situation far too many times, and that was one more,” Salmon said.
South Tahoe (16-7) dominated possession against Western throughout Friday night’s match, but couldn’t finish its opportunities. The Vikings never really found a rhythm in an uneven performance — but still looked like they would advance to the state title game while facing a team making its first state appearance.
“We always think that in five or 10 minutes, they’ll shake that off — but tonight it was all 100 minutes,” Salmon said. “They weren’t communicating and they weren’t playing like they can.”
After a scoreless first half, the Vikings opened the scoring in the 58th minute. Junior Annie Brejc — who moved from wing to forward early in the second half — corralled a long ball from the back and scored on a breakaway with a left-footed finish that made it 1-0.
“We owned this game and I thought this was a no-brainer,” Salmon said. “At 1-0, I was thinking it was done.”
A couple minutes later, sophomore Quinn Simpson found the back of the net to give South Tahoe what appeared to be a commanding 2-0 lead. But she was ruled offside, negating a goal that likely would have seen the Vikings to victory.
With new life, Western quickly evened the score. Reynada had the ball at the top of the box and slid a pass to senior Katherine Realegeno, who finished across the goal past an outstretched save attempt from senior Claudia Janese to tie the game in the 66th minute.
“Every minute that went on in that game brought them more and more confidence and brought ours down,” Salmon said. “We started to get rushed and we were tired.”
South Tahoe had the last five shots in regulation — including three on goal in the last 10 minutes — but couldn’t break the deadlock. A long-range effort from junior Samantha Frates hit off the crossbar in the 80th minute, and the whistle blew shortly after to force overtime.
“They had a couple of scary chances, but we had dozens of opportunities — and all we had to do was put one away,” Salmon said. “We didn’t crash, and there were so many second opportunities that we didn’t follow.”
Western carried momentum into the first 15-minute overtime period, and had the only three shots of the frame. Shortly into the second overtime, Reynada scored her 37th goal of the season to end South Tahoe’s season — and was mobbed on the field by teammates and classmates as the Vikings came back to their sideline in disbelief.
“I know what these girls are capable of and I’ve seen the best soccer of any team I’ve had come out of this group, so to end it like this is unbelievably unfair,” Salmon said. “It feels unwarranted.
“We were the better team, we had the run of play, we deserved a victory and it’s unfortunate. It hurts and it’s going to sting for a while.”
Western lost to Northern top seed Truckee 3-0 in the 3A State championship Saturday, Nov. 12. The title was the Wolverines’ first since 2009 and state record ninth all-time.