Vikings take it to Reed in zone finals
RENO — They played like men among boys and then celebrated like the teen-agers that they are.
In the Northern Nevada 4A Boys’ Regional Soccer Championship on Saturday, the South Tahoe High’s multi-faceted attack made the Reed Raiders look like a sinking ship with everything funneling toward their end of the boat.
The Vikings so thoroughly dominated the finals from the midfield to the box that goalie Tobin Lindstrom could have taken the final off. In fact, at one point in the second half, a Viking fan yelled, “Goalie, try and stay awake back there.”
The end result was a very satisfying 3-0 victory, propelling the Vikings into the state semifinals later this week. The Vikings (21-0-2 ) will play Sunset champion Centennial, a 2-1 winner over previously unbeaten Bishop Gorman, at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Cimarron-Memorial High School in Las Vegas.
“I’m happy. We’re going to Vegas,” said STHS junior midfielder Enrique Avina, who scored twice and left behind a trail of confused Reed defenders, who are probably still wondering how he got the ball around them.
South Tahoe celebrated its second regional title in four years by bellyflopping on the muddy turf — a field condition that caused the game to be delayed by half an hour and postponed the girls’ finals until later this week. After taking a victory lap, the Vikings gave coach Joe Winters a traditional Gatorade shower.
The unified effort actually began a night earlier when many of the Vikings got together and dyed their hair blond.
“We all came confident to the game and we knew we were were going to win this game. We were talking about it (Friday) night while we were bleaching our hair … everybody was pumped up and we knew were going to come out score goals and beat them bad,” said junior Leon Abravanel.
Unbeaten South Tahoe left Reed exasperated as soon as the delayed game began, peppering goalie Vince Liccardi like he was a porterhouse steak.
After missing four solid chances in the first eight minutes, the Vikings struck first on a throw-in by Victor Mariscal. Mariscal’s long pass found the foot of Enrique Avina, who blasted it in the back of the net from 20 yards out.
“We were just passing the ball around and playing like we play,” Mariscal said.
Minutes later, Jordan Boles stopped a potential breakaway with a steal just inside Viking territory. That defensive stop set up another round of Viking opportunities.
Noe Estrada left a Raider defender in his tracks with a nifty move before being knocked over in the box, Alex Torres rocketed a shot just right of the post and Corey Vermillion forced Liccardi to make a diving stop of his close-range shot off a throw-in from Abravanel.
But Liccardi couldn’t stop everything.
Only minutes after Vermillion slipped to miss an outstanding chance at a point-blank shot, the sophomore collected the rebound from a near goal by Avina and stretched the net for a 2-0 STHS lead.
Torres and Avina kept the pressure on with several more scoring chances before the half ended with STHS in front 2-0.
“We came out anticipating their defense. That’s all you have to do,” Torres said.
Tyson Cunningham made certain that Reed didn’t get off to a fast second-half start. In one of the Raiders’ few thrusts into the Viking box, Cunningham discombobulated the opportunity with a high boot across the field.
Taking a nifty back kick from Torres on wing, Cunningham nearly put the Vikings ahead 3-0 seconds later. However, Liccardi cut off the angle and made the easy save.
But Liccardi was no match for the fast footwork of Avina on the Vikings’ next possession. After taking a cross from Cunningham in the box, Avina dribbled past two Raiders before slipping a shot inside the right post.
“I showed my skills today,” Avina said. “I’ve been practicing hard and watching Mexican soccer.”
He’s also been encouraged to shoot more.
“He normally comes out of the midfield, but we have such fast forwards that teams have to key on those guys. That enables our midfield to get into the attack,” STHS coach Joe Winters said.
The goal demoralized the Raiders, who spent the remainder of the game trying to tackle the Vikings’ stars. A hard tackle sent Estrada to the sideline briefly with an injured ankle and then Torres remained on the soggy turf for several minutes after taking a shot to his ribs. He also injured his knee on the takedown and was assisted off the field. Torres’ injuries aren’t serious and he’s expected to play at state.
After play resumed, Abravanel was taken down in almost the same place as Torres. But he jumped up almost immediately.
“The officials could have protected our players better,” Winters said. “Reed should have been penalized for the things they were doing at the end when the game changed into something other than soccer.
“But I think my players should be commended for not retaliating, for staying focused and playing the game.”
In the closing seconds, Liccardi pushed Estrada to the ground. Earlier in the half, Liccardi was yellow carded for kicking Fabian Perez in the leg prior to a cornerkick.
“That was poor. If you have to lose, you have to lose with some pride,” Abravanel said.
Reed received six yellow cards and two red cards – most of which game in the second half.
But when the officials blew their whistles for the final time, the Vikings could take pride in finishing a goal that eluded them last year.
“It feels great because last year was a disappointment. We were one of the best teams going in,” Boles said. “This year we were the best team going in hands down. We just tried to play our hardest and not let it happen again.”
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