South Tahoe’s dream season ends in PKs
RENO – Consoling hugs and free-flowing tears did little to remove the sting of their first defeat of the season.
Thirty minutes following their first Northern Nevada 4A girls’ soccer loss of the season, several South Tahoe High players sat motionless on the field, paralyzed from a 1-0 penalty-kick shootout loss to Reed in the Northern 4A regional championship on Saturday at Damonte Ranch High.
After 80 minutes of regulation play and a 30-minute overtime failed to produce a goal, the regional title and the Vikings’ perfect season against Northern 4A competition came down to the loathed shootout.
“We have 10 seniors on the team. Obviously it’s very emotional to them, not only did they not win, but it was their last game,” said STHS coach Clint Lockhart. “In their heart of hearts they still believe they are the best team, and they’d probably like to come out and play Reed tomorrow.”
Tess Braun, one of those seniors, was one of the last Vikings to leave the field.
“The season was more than I could have asked for,” Braun said. “I never thought we would go undefeated, and every girl on the team put out all the effort that they could.”
South Tahoe survived a shootout against Spanish Springs in a first round regional playoff game, but there was nothing to suggest that experience would benefit the Vikings a second time.
Reed, in fact, opened a 3-1 lead after the first three penalty kicks. Needing only a Viking miss or a successful conversion of their own, the Raiders were in prime position to close out the shootout with little fanfare.
But the Vikings showed why they had been unbeatable to that point.
“It kind of goes with their heart and their whole mentality,” Lockhart said. “They’ve always been driven no matter what the score or the case was.”
Cassidy Berg calmly buried a shot in the lower-right corner of the goal, then Reed’s Jessica Allen blast clanked off the cross bar, enabling the Vikings to make the shootout’s final round.
Bree Norton deftly placed kick in the upper-left compartment pulled the Vikings even, forcing Reed to make its final shot or go to the shootout’s sudden-death round.
The climaxing play had its share of drama.
STHS senior keeper Candace Prescott anticipated Kayla Gomer’s aim, diving to her right, but the shot squeezed inside the post, ending the Vikings’ attempt to win their first regional title since 1996.
“Nobody even gave them a lot of credit before the season to even make it this far,” Lockhart said. “They’ve overcome all odds, and I couldn’t be more proud of them as a team. They were 19-0 to this point, they won league, they beat all comers. It’s always going to end in some period of time, so I couldn’t be more happier for them. I’m just glad they made it this far.”
Reed coach Jason Seville empathized with the way the Vikings lost.
“It’s really not fair. I would have said the same thing losing or winning,” he said. “To leave it to two goalkeepers and a handful of shooters, that’s a horrible way. I wish soccer would do something about it, or high school soccer would do something to change it because that’s not the right way to lose.”
South Tahoe finished with a 22-3 overall mark, one of the best records in school history. The Vikings’ two earlier defeats were in non-regulation, 50-minute matches in the Galena preseason tournament. They went 19-1 during regular season play.
South Tahoe outshot Reed 20-10 and had the better opportunities to break the scoreless tie. Ten minutes into the match, Sarah Burks raised her arms in disbelief after her 30-yard blast from the wing glanced off the cross bar.
In the 49th minute, Morgan Cook crossed to Karli Vath, but Vath’s attempt was tipped over the cross bar by Kellie Dunn. Inside the final 15 minutes, Berg was knocked off her feet in the box following a slick pass by Cook, but no call was made.
“It was frustrating, but we all left it out on the field,” Burks said.
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