South Tahoe girls soccer ties Douglas 1-1, passes state test
In a showdown between state title contenders on Thursday, Sept. 24, the South Tahoe girls soccer team earned a passing mark. The Vikings tied Douglas (Minden, Nev.) 1-1 at South Tahoe Middle School, earning the draw with the Div. I opposition on a late goal from Bailee Salmon.
“It was definitely nice to have some competition compared to some of our league games,” Bailee Salmon said. “All of us came together and rose to the competition.”
Both teams found chances hard to come by from the outset of the nonleague contest, with most of the possession-oriented match played in the midfield. South Tahoe (4-1-2) trailed by a goal at halftime after an even first half, falling behind after a defensive miscue.
“We had the run of play in the first half, so it was tough to give up that goal,” Vikings coach Mark Salmon said. “Claudia [Janese] is a terrific keeper and she’s very aggressive. She made a play on the ball that she thought was necessary and it was an unlucky situation.”
Douglas (8-1-1) opened the scoring just before halftime, taking a 1-0 lead on a long shot from Jessica Withrow in the 38th minute. Janese came off her line to clear the ball, but her clearance went to the middle of the field. Withrow hit a low shot from 25 yards out that found its way through South Tahoe’s defense and into the empty net.
“With our home-field advantage, we knew the weight of our passes and where we needed to be,” Bailee Salmon said. “We pretty much just needed to keep playing the way we were playing.”
The Tigers controlled play at the start of the second half, and put South Tahoe on the defensive with a number of scoring chances. The Vikings absorbed pressure from the Douglas attack led by McKenna Kynett and Alissa Holley for the first quarter-hour before re-establishing their style of play.
“We came out a little bit flat, the tables turned, we were on our heels and we started looking tired,” Mark Salmon said. “But we slowly built and we hung in there — all of a sudden we started building confidence.”
Bailee Salmon entered the match at striker midway through the second half, and the midfielder provided an immediate spark in attack. Even with South Tahoe gaining possession, the Vikings still needed to take a chance to pull even — and the junior delivered.
“I was sitting on the bench and I had to get in — if we lost this game 1-0 after dominating, I couldn’t have that,” Bailee Salmon said. “In that moment, I was thinking I would score right there.”
With less than 10 minutes to play, South Tahoe midfielder Emma Dayberry went on a run from midfield and laid the ball off to Bailee Salmon just outside the box. In space, Salmon fired a shot that curled inside the left post to tie the match in the 71st minute.
“I thought for sure it was going to hit the post, but it worked out for us,” Bailee Salmon said. “It was definitely one of the biggest highlights of my high school season so far.”
Both teams traded chances until the final whistle, with the Tigers having the best chance to break the deadlock. Three minutes after South Tahoe pulled even, Kynett hit a blast from distance that missed wide.
For the two-time defending state champion Vikings, Thursday’s match marked a state-caliber test. And following a somewhat sluggish start to league play, South Tahoe delivered one of its top performances of the season against Div. I power Douglas.
“We had to do it on our home turf,” Mark Salmon said. “We’d been struggling the last couple games, so it’s nice to pick it up and show what we can do.”
On Wednesday, Sept. 23, the Vikings continued an unbeaten start to league play with a 3-0. Midfielder Jennifer Valdivia scored twice and defender Molly Jaggard found the back of the net as South Tahoe improved to 4-0-1 in league.
South Tahoe returns to action at home on Saturday, Sept. 26, against Sparks (3-2-2, 3-2 I-A Northern). Kickoff at Viking Stadium is scheduled for noon.