South Tahoe on a familiar playoff road
CARSON CITY – With only a handful of players who had significant roles on last year’s 4A state championship team, South Tahoe High boys’ soccer coach Chris DeLeon wasn’t sure to expect from his team in the first round of the Northern 4A regional tournament.
But it only took a few minutes for him to realize he had nothing to worry about because Bryan “Chino” Garcia and Anthony DeMarta – two unheralded players to start the season – each scored first-half goals in the Vikings’ 2-1 victory over Reed on Saturday at Carson High School. South Tahoe advances to the regional semifinals for the sixth consecutive season.
“This game was a huge confidence boost for our guys who haven’t been here before,” DeLeon said. “We still played a little too defensive in the second half. That’s been our problem all season. I would like us to be more aggressive and attack more.”
The Vikings (17-4-2) will play Douglas in the regional semifinals on Thursday at Damonte Ranch. The Tigers, who have lost twice this season to South Tahoe, upset High Desert League champion McQueen on Saturday with a 5-3 penalty kick shootout victory over the Lancers.
Sierra League champion Carson, which beat Fallon 3-2, will play Reno in the other semifinal. The Huskies defeated Galena 3-2, setting up an all-Sierra League regional semifinal bracket for the second time in three years.
“We came into this game very confident,” said STHS defender Ian Rice, a starter on last year’s team. “We have some guys who have been to two, three playoffs and so we helped bring the younger guys along. I think we will have a big advantage against Douglas because we know their strengths and weaknesses.”
South Tahoe scored early against Reed, using Chino’s goal in the third minute off an assist from DeMarta to go up 1-0. But two minutes later, Reed’s Nick Diebel was taken down inside the box, setting up the Raiders’ only goal.
Jacob Blackett’s penalty kick was initially saved by STHS goalie Alfredo Solorio, who then saved Blackett’s follow-up attempt before Ryan Nelson scored on Reed’s third shot of the sequence. Then in the 15th minute, DeMarta scored the game-winner with his header off a well-struck corner kick from Ian Chandler.
After the flurry of goals to start the game, South Tahoe’s defense clamped down on the Raiders and never afforded them any serious scoring chances.
“We’ve had trouble finishing all year long,” said Reed coach Richard Hollis, whose team finishes the season 9-5-3. “We mostly rely on our defense and we came up short offensively in the second half today. I thought we played lazy and they played great in the first half.”
South Tahoe now faces Douglas, which lost to the Vikings 3-0 in last year’s regional semifinals. The Vikings were forced to beat the Tigers three times in one season last year, a feat that will have to be accomplished again if they want to make their second straight zone championship game appearance.
“Northern Nevada has some of the best coaches around and I’m sure Milko (Vasquez) will have something in store for us,” DeLeon said. “It’s very difficult to beat the same team three times in one season. The most important thing for us is to settle down and play our game.”