Viking varsity vaults to Victory on Vacaville voyage |

Viking varsity vaults to Victory on Vacaville voyage

Dan Thomas

The verdict from the Vikings’ voyage to Vacaville? Victory.

South Tahoe’s boys soccer team won the Vacaville Kickoff Classic in California to start its season 5-0. South Tahoe proved its mettle against some of northern California’s powers Friday and Saturday, winning five games by a combined score of 14-2.

“It was just a phenomenal weekend,” said South Tahoe head coach Joe Winters, whose team reversed its fortunes from a 1-4 start last season. “Playing under the heat, and the number of games we played, and the competition we played against, the boys just gained more and more confidence.”

Plus, as they clinched the title with a 3-1 win over Dixon, Calif., under the lights at Vacaville High School, the Vikings exorcised some demons. In a similar setting at Reed High School last season, Carson edged South Tahoe in triple overtime of the zone finals to eliminate the Vikings from the playoffs. This time, South Tahoe blew open a 1-1 halftime tie to provide Winters with the opportunity to play all his substitutes.

“I think the guys definitely got the monkey off the back, and are definitely looking forward to a good season,” Winters said.

South Tahoe’s run to the championship of the 12-team tournament started Friday against Vallejo, Calif. David Brown scored to break a 0-0 tie in the second half, and Andy Butcher gave South Tahoe an insurance goal later. The team’s second pool opponent, St. Helena, Calif., also held the Vikings scoreless for a half before the offense erupted: South Tahoe’s Miguel Jiminez had two goals, captain Evan Baker two more and Eric Martinez one more as South Tahoe won 5-0 and set up Friday night’s quarterfinal against Galt, Calif.

Galt scored 15 minutes in to take an early lead, but South Tahoe’s Pedro Verdin tied the score 1-1 before halftime. In the second half, Ascension Gonzales scored Tahoe’s go-ahead goal on a diving header. Jiminez provided an insurance goal for the Vikings as they held on for a 3-1 win and an appearance in the semifinals against host Vacaville.

Vacaville entered the semifinal with 22 goals in the first three games, and an Olympic Development Program player and four northern California all-stars on its roster.

But Winters’ Vikings drew first blood. South Tahoe’s high-pressure offense created the first score 15 minutes in, forcing Vacaville’s fullback into a turnover, which Hank Ketelsen picked up and slid under the keeper. South Tahoe’s defense came up big, holding the tournament hosts at bay for the remainder of the game, giving South Tahoe a 1-0 win and setting the stage for the championship game against Dixon.

Dixon, a soccer powerhouse and Vacaville’s traditional rival, put South Tahoe behind early in the championship. Dixon struck first, sending a forward through the Viking defense for a one-on-one chance against goalie Peter Chiarpotti. He converted, giving Dixon a 1-0 lead 15 minutes in. But South Tahoe made the adjustments against Dixon’s counterattack, and Baker evened the score 10 minutes later. Baker beat Dixon’s goalie to the top right, tying the score halfway through the first half.

Winters made more adjustments at halftime, moving Baker to forward and Victor Gonzales to defensive midfield. The tinkering paid off.

“Things just opened up for us in the second half,” Winters said.

Gustavo Romero, a sophomore, scored South Tahoe’s go-ahead goal on a scramble in front off the corner kick, making it 2-1 Vikings. Kerim Posada, who moved from his fullback position to right mid, put the game out of reach with five minutes left, knocking in another loose ball, and giving Winters the opportunity to clear his benches.

“Every player helped out, and everyone played,” Winters said.

The Vikings finished with a championship trophy, five players – Victor Gonzales, William Aguilar, Brown, Baker and co-captain Paul Wilson – on the all-tournament team, and a boost in confidence for the regular season.

“To come up with a first-place trophy was almost unbelievable, but I believe in these guys,” Winters said. “I really do.

“I’m pleased with the results, but I don’t think our work’s done yet.”

The Viking boys kick off the regular season Tuesday, when they travel to Elko for a 3:30 p.m. game. They open the home schedule against Reed at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Whittell boys 1-2 versus hosts, second in Pahrump tournament

Second place at the Pahrump tournament, clearly, was second-best in the minds of Whittell’s boys soccer program.

“Our expectations were higher than we accomplished,” said Whittell head coach Steve Maltase, whose Warriors finished 4-2. “I have mixed feelings because we played better than I thought we would, but I thought we should have won the tournament.”

The Warriors created enough opportunities to outscore its opponents 8-3, but couldn’t score late in the tournament, as the host Trojans took two close wins from Whittell. The Warriors opened the weekend with a 3-2 win over host Pahrump Valley, but lost to the same team 1-1 on penalty kicks (3-1) later in the tournament, and again 1-0 in the championship game as Pahrump converted a penalty shot inside the goal box. While temperatures soared, Maltase didn’t attribute the loss to the conditions.

“We got worn down a little bit in the last couple of games, but I didn’t think it had much effect on us,” Maltase said.

Whittell scored shutout wins, 3-0 over White Pine, 1-0 over Spring Creek and 0-0 over Moapa Valley on penalty kicks. Pahrump was first, Moapa Valley third, Spring Creek fourth, Boulder City fourth and White Pine sixth. Veterans Scott Corwin, Todd Echan and freshman Nestor Flores earned slots on the all-tournament first team, while senior Chris Markt scored two goals in his first year of varsity soccer.

Whittell’s boys open their home schedule with a nonleague game against two-time defending state champion North Tahoe at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

“It’ll give us a good idea of what we’re up against down the road,” Maltase said. Whittell opens its league schedule Sept. 29 at home against Incline.

Girls soccer

Whittell girls third at Pahrump tournament

A shortened roster and 105-degree temperatures couldn’t keep Whittell High’s girls from starting their season with a third-place finish in the Pahrump soccer tournament.

Whittell started the season 3-2 and advanced through the consolation bracket Friday and Saturday, but ultimately settled for third place after a 3-2 loss to Spring Creek. The heat, injuries and absences hampered the Warriors, but the team’s precision and the promise of its young players impressed head coach Mike Leeper.

“We could have played better,” Leeper said. “You never want to make excuses, but without subs and the ability to rotate players, it’s a little tough on the girls.”

A lack of depth and an abundance of heat ultimately cost the Warriors, who blew a 2-0 lead in the final game against Spring Creek, but the tournament highlighted some of the program’s young players.

“We see lots of good things coming from our freshmen,” Leeper said. “It was a chance for all our freshmen to get a little playing time.”

Whittell started off as hot as the weather Friday, beating tournament host Pahrump 3-1 and shutting out White Pine 7-0. Courtney Benvenuto and Caitlin Fagan connected on a highlight-reel goal to jump-start the team Saturday: Benvenuto, who finished with six goals and three assists, laid out for a perfect cross from Fagan and headed the ball in to open the scoring as Whittell rolled to a 7-0 win. The Warriors advanced through the consolation bracket, but lost 1-0 to Boulder City, and ended the tournament with the 3-2 loss to Spring Creek.

Benvenuto and goalie Renee Cascino earned all-tournament honors, and freshmen Stacy Graham and Heather O’Brien emerged as strong players for Whittell. Graham scored a goal in her first performance for Whittell, and while O’Brien provided dependable defense. Leeper may be able to rely on them when Whittell opens its home season at 3 p.m. Thursday against North Tahoe, still with a short roster. He anticipates the full team will be available for the Truckee tournament Sept. 9-10.

South Tahoe, Elko battle to scoreless tie

After the first 80 minutes of the 1999 season, the stats for South Tahoe’s girls read the following way: no goals, no goals against, no wins no losses.

The Vikings (0-0-1) kicked off their season Saturday by battling Elko to a scoreless draw at South Tahoe Middle School. The Vikings managed nine shots on goal, but couldn’t convert, while Elko couldn’t get past South Tahoe keeper Sarah Junge.

“I think we played really well,” said South Tahoe head coach Julia Peyser after the first game in her second year as coach. “I think it was a little bit of the first-game-of-the-season jitters.”

While South Tahoe’s tackling and trapping was effective, the Vikings’ passing couldn’t create a successful scoring opportunity. Senior Emily Magana led the Vikings with three chances, and Erin Brown added two more, coming up from stopper to play offense.

“That’s going to be our big thing, shooting in the net,” Peyser said. “We’ve just got to picture those ex-boyfriends in the back of the net.”

On the other side of the ball, Junge preserved the shutout, making nine saves, tipping one sure goal over the crossbar.

The team returns to action Tuesday with another home match, at 3:30 p.m. against Reed.

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