Vikings down Indians in OT
CARSON CITY – In the ebb and flows of a soccer match, the South Tahoe High girls’ soccer team picked the perfect time for its final surge of momentum.
Fighting an upstream battle all day against Elko, Morgan Cook scored the equalizer in the 74th minute, then Kelsi Buts scored 12 minutes into the first overtime period as the Vikings beat the Indians 2-1 in the first round of the Northern 4A regional tournament on Saturday at Carson High School.
Elko (12-5-3) went up 1-0 in the 18th minute and seemed in control much of the match. But South Tahoe, which hadn’t come-from-behind to beat an opponent this season, never stopped believing.
“I think we came out a little overconfident,” said first-year STHS coach Clint Lockhart, whose team improved to 18-2-3. “I think we thought we’d just show up and move on to the next round. Obviously that didn’t happen.”
The Vikings advance to play High Desert League champion Reed in the regional semifinals on Wednesday at Damonte Ranch. McQueen, which upset Sierra League champion Carson 2-1, plays Galena in the other semifinal. Although South Tahoe was the lone Sierra League team to advance on Saturday, it certainly wasn’t an easy task.
Teryn Yopps’ goal in the 18th minute that put Elko ahead 1-0 was the result of a nice through ball from midfielder Mauriana Gonzalez. Then in the 38th minute, the Indians’ Molly Ziolkowski got behind the South Tahoe defense, but her far-post shot bounced off the post.
Elko’s Kami Hernandez, who led the High Desert League with 20 goals this season, nearly scored her 21st in the second half but saw her shot hit the post before it was eventually cleared.
“It’s a hard way to lose,” Elko coach Michelle Gandolfo said. “I just told them to keep the intensity up. Sometimes it comes down to who wants it more, and obviously South Tahoe wanted it a little bit more today.”
With their season down to the final 20 minutes – and after being passive most of the match – the Vikings turned aggressive and played with a sense of urgency. Their reward came in the 74th minute, when Cook’s 30-yard shot from the right flank beat the keeper to the near post.
South Tahoe continued to pressure Elko as five of its seven corner kicks were earned in the game’s final 10 minutes of regulation and overtime. Twelve minutes into the first overtime period, the Vikings put an end to the drama when Brittany Barcellos played a through ball for Buts, who slotted home the game-winner.
“We started out really well and then we kind of tailed off,” Cook said. “Once we got that first goal, our team came together and we showed a lot of determination.”
The Vikings hope the same determination emerges on Thursday, when they face a Reed team that beat Elko twice during the regular season. South Tahoe hasn’t advanced to the regional championship game since it won the zone title in 1996. The Vikings also made the zone semifinals in 2004, when it lost to eventual champion McQueen.
“We’re going to come out hard against Reed,” said Buts, who quickly pointed out South Tahoe’s 2-0 win over the Raiders in the Galena preseason tournament. “Every team has progressed throughout the year, and that includes us.”