Vikings thrilled to be through first round |

Vikings thrilled to be through first round

“Basically, our thoughts were, don’t do what we did last year,” Abravenal said. “Last year was really hard on us.”

Playing on the same field where they were handed a first-round loss by way of penalty kicks with Sparks last year, the Vikings made sure the Greenwave of Fallon didn’t have the same luck.

A sustained offensive attack, coupled with a swarming defense was the difference in a game that saw the Vikings take a big step toward their goal of getting to the state tournament.

Junior forward Alex Torres, who had been on a five-game scoring drought, jumped the Greenwave just 5 minutes into the match when he took a beautiful head cross from Abravenal and beat keeper Ian Drakulich to his right. The goal gave the Vikings a 1-0 lead and a ton of confidence for the rest of the match.

“I had like five games without scoring,” Torres said. “So I was thinking, ‘I have to score this game.'”

While the Vikings outshot the Greenwave 9-1 in the first half, it wasn’t until the 37th minute that they struck again.

Scrappy forward Enrique Avina made it 2-0 with a brilliant low, line drive shot that snuck inside the far post. Abravenal was once again in on the score, slipping a nice through ball on the left side to spring Avina.

Taking a 2-0 lead into the half, the Vikings could have easily let up a bit, but considering their luck in opening-round games in previous years, they continued the pressure in the second-half.

A smoothering defense attack led by senior Tim Head and junior keeper Tobin Lindstrom kept the Greenwave almost entirely out of their final third.

“The defense has just been playing phenomenal,” Viking coach Joe Winters said. “They do a really good job of marking well and denying the other team the ball; it’s just tenacious all over the field. From the front to the back, the guys play really well.”

Already in with assists on the first two goals, Abravenal added a score of his own in the 58th minute when Torres found him with a pretty centering feed in the box. Abravenal collected the pass and shook his defender with a step- over move, creating space to crack a tough-angle shot that slid into the back of the net.

“Leon played great today,” Winters said. “He came out and made some things happen again in the second half and just did a great job.”

With the game in hand, Winters began emptying his bench around the 75th minute, but Fallon continued to press hard.

“I was really proud of my guys,” Fallon coach Nate Waite said. “They showed a lot of heart today. We have never been to the playoffs before and to come in an compete with a tough South Tahoe team like they did was great.” Winters also admired the fortitude of a Greenwave team they previously defeated 10-0 this year.

“We didn’t take Fallon lightly … we beat them pretty easily the first time we played them, but they’ve improved,” Winters said. “Their coach did a great job of getting them ready to play this game and even though they didn’t get a lot of chances to score, they weren’t going to lay down at anytime and you have to tip your hat to that.”

With the win, the Vikings advance to a Wednesday semifinal date with North Valleys, which STHS defeated and tied during the regular season. With a shocking first-round loss by High Desert Division champion Galena on Saturday, the Vikings are the highest seeded team remaining in the tournament.

But for now, the Vikings are just happy to be alive and kicking in the zone tournament.

“We definitely had last year in mind and we were going try our hardest to not let that happen again,” Winters said. “The whole team came out to play today and we did what we had to do. We created our goal-scoring chances and that’s what you need to win.”

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