Vikings soccer girls celebrate senior night with rout of Elko
The South Tahoe girls’ soccer program celebrated its seniors Friday night, Oct. 20, under the lights at halftime of its 3A Northern League clash against Elko.
Aside from crushing the Indians 3-0, the four seniors will likely remember most the halftime ceremony when they stood on the field with their respective families.
With a cold chill in the air and the morning snow still lining the banks surrounding Vikings Stadium, Bailey Segers, Lulu Gutierrez, Samantha Frates and Zoey Fiston all exchanged emotional messages via the stadium’s sound system in recorded speeches.
Each player thanked the many people that helped them along the way and each said something a little more special about their head coach Mark Salmon.
Following the players’ messages, Salmon had a message of his own. During, there were jokes and laughter from the solid crowd in the bleachers. After, there were tears.
“It’s not like this is my first or second year coaching these kids,” Salmon said. “It’s a small town and I have coached all of these since they were young. I’ve watched them grow up. They probably think ‘Coach has this tough exterior’ and maybe that’s the way I try to be, but when it comes down to it, I care deeply. It breaks me up and I cry every year.”
“It’s emotional,” Segers said. “You never think it’s gonna be you up there. You watch everybody else go through the routine and it’s my senior game. It’s my last one under the lights and it doesn’t feel real.”
Leading up to the halftime event, the Vikings had the full run of play.
Keytie Jacqueline Bravo-Cazares started off the scoring in the 19th minute. She ran onto a loose ball in the center of the field and, from straight on, lined a shot into the right side of the net, just inside the post, from about 25 yards. The diving goalie had no chance.
Star freshman Kelsey Hogan scored an impressive goal 10 minutes later. Playing on the left wing, she received a perfectly-placed long pass from Segers. Being wide open, she corralled the pass, took a peak at the goalie and chipped a left-footed shot from about 20 yards, right over the goalie’s head and into the right side of the net. It was her team-leading 10th goal of the year.
Again, the goalie had zero chance.
“Some kids just have a nose for the goal and Kelsey is one of those kids,” Salmon said. “She can do it form every angle. She plays with both feet. She can chip you. She can drive it, finesse it and she’s a freshman. People that play us have to be looking at her and Giovana (De Loia) and all our freshmen and thinking about future of South Tahoe soccer.”
The Vikings led 2-0 at halftime. They were connecting passes, maintaining possession and playing keep away from the Indians.
“We had one of the best games of the season,” Gutierrez said. “We connected super well and I couldn’t be any more happier with our performance for our senior game.”
Segers finished the scoring just a few minutes into the second half. This time is was Hogan putting a perfect cross pass right onto the senior’s foot who buried it from point blank range. It was her ninth goal of the season.
The rest of the half, Salmon substituted freely and got everybody involved and was also able to get rest for players for their noon clash Saturday, Oct. 21, against Spring Creek.
The Vikings (9-3-1) sit in third place in league behind Truckee (11-0-1 3A Northern) and North Tahoe (12-1-1 3A Northern). They are ahead of Incline (6-4-3), Spring Creek (7-6-1) and Elko (5-7-1). After the Vikings play Spring Creek, they have two games left in the regular season. Then come the playoffs.
“Tonight was exciting and I’m sad it’s over,” Segers said. I never want it to end.”
“It’s so heart warming and so sad this is my last year,” Gutierrez said. “I couldn’t be anymore thankful for all the support we received tonight. This season has been a crazy ride, but overall I feel like we’ve been able to get past it all. This is a strong team and hopefully we win a state title.”