Vikings strike early, and often to advance to soccer finals |

Vikings strike early, and often to advance to soccer finals

Dan ThriftAlex Torres scores the first of his two goals on a penalty kick early in South Tahoe High's Northern 4A Regional semifinal match with North Valleys on Wednesday night at Reno High School

RENO — South Tahoe High knew that if it scored early it would force North Valleys out of its game, and that proved true Wednesday as the Vikings defeated the Panthers 4-1 to advance to the 4A Northern Region boys’ soccer finals.

Alex Torres, South Tahoe’s scoring leader, received a penalty kick less than five minutes into the game after a one-on-one breakaway with North Valley’s keeper sent him to the grass.

Torres put the PK just off the tips of the goalkeeper’s fingers and inside the left post.

Less than five minutes later, Torres threw the ball into play at the feet of Corey Vermillion, who sent a long pass to Victor Mariscal deep in North Valley territory. Mariscal then sent a strong shot into the back of the net to give the Vikings a 2-0 lead.

“We came out very pumped up,” Mariscal said. “We came out the second half the same way.”

Three minutes into the second half, Leon Abravanel drew several Panther defenders just inside the 18-yard mark, then made a beautiful pass out to Mariscal, who was wide open. Mariscal’s subsequent goal put the Vikings up 3-0.

A minute later, Torres earned his second goal to give the Vikings a 4-0 lead.

“We were just doing what coach tells us to do,” said Mariscal, and that was to come out in the second half as if the first half didn’t happen.”

The Vikings did just that, scoring all four goals within the first 10 minutes of each half.

Torres, who has been playing the role of decoy in recent games, wasn’t double teamed. That left the star Viking open for opportunities.

“They didn’t want me to be the decoy today,” he said.

Torres said the first goal put the Panthers on the attack. He said they became frustrated when the Vikings’ defense wouldn’t yield.

“This was a team win,” Torres said.

The Viking defense held the Panthers to less than 10 shots on net and little time to work the ball in Viking territory.

But North Valleys’ Bobby Partida got a break in the 54th minute with an unassisted goal on a shot just outside the 18-yard mark.

However, it was too little too late.

STHS coach Joe Winters said if the team can play like that in the finals, the Vikings will win the regional title.

“If we can play like a team, we can win and that’s what we did today,” Winters said.

The Vikings will play Reed in the finals this Saturday at 1 p.m. at Reno High.

“The first 15 minutes of the half is the best I’ve seen us play all year,” Abravanel said after the game. “I was proud — proud to be a Viking.”

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