Tigers, Vikings meet in showdown for first place
A perfect record and first place in Northern Nevada 4A soccer aren’t the only things on the line at Douglas today, because South Tahoe High is coming to town.
“Their being ahead of us point-wise is enough incentive for us to come out and play hard,” said South Tahoe head coach Joe Winters. “We’ll be up for the game. The fact that Douglas is one of our rivals – along with Carson – I think the guys will be up for it. Barring any bad luck or bad breaks that would put us in a hole early in the game, I think it will be a good game.”
The Vikings and Tigers always seem to mark the calendars for when their rivalry spills over the state line, but this meeting is especially compelling. South Tahoe hasn’t lost this season, and beat Douglas 2-0 in the first meeting between the teams Sept. 11. The Vikings are 9-0-3 in league play, and seemed to own first place before Douglas surged into the lead last weekend.
Even though the Tigers (10-3-1) have three losses, they have played more games, and have 31 points, one more than the Vikings. A win on Wednesday would give Douglas a three-point cushion, and, if Reno wins the same day, would drop South Tahoe into a tie for second in the league.
“We have to win every game, just so we have home-field advantage,” said senior fullback Paul Wilson, one of South Tahoe’s co-captians. “The next three are going to be the toughest.”
South Tahoe dominated the first match with Douglas, handing the Tigers their first loss.
“They dominated the game the first time,” said Douglas coach Philip Sheridan. “They’re up. They lost the first time, so they don’t want to lose again.”
The Vikings controlled play in the midfield and held Douglas to just three second-half shots. The Vikings led 2-0 at halftime on an own-goal Miguel Jiminez and Chris McKean created, and a header from midfielder Dave Brown. The match highlighted what South Tahoe has done all season – when the Vikings come out focused, their opponents have trouble mounting a challenge.
“We just play a lot better, work as hard as we can,” said Wilson’s co-captain, forward Evan Baker. According to both captains, the difference shows before the games, too. When South Tahoe has a loud locker room before the game as the players psych each other up, the team comes out with more focus. There was a loud pre-game meeting before the Vikings shut out Reno on Oct. 2.
Depth also paid dividends for the Vikings in the first match against Douglas. Winters used all 20 eligible players on his roster, and each one contributed. He anticipates doing something similar today. McKean has returned to the South Tahoe lineup after cracking his collarbone in the first game against Douglas, and is questionable for today’s game, as is Pedro Verdin. Carlos Davila also has returned to the team after missing most of the season with an achilles injury he sustained in the second game. Hank Ketelsen is ineligible for today’s game after drawing a red card in South Tahoe’s 7-0 win over Fallon, but Winters will lead the Vikings in Douglas after appealing his red card from the same game.
His counterpart, though, will be a different coach than the one leading Douglas Sept. 11. After Tigers head coach Mike Robinson resigned recently, Phillip Sheridan took over, and has kept Douglas winning.
“Tahoe is a lot more physical than we are, but our kids are playing good soccer now,” Sheridan said. “If they play good soccer, we’re going to have an opportunity to win.”
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