Warriors advance to state semifinals
Nervous? Forget it. Off their game because of the playoff pressure? Not a chance. Lucky? Didn’t need any luck.
Whittell’s boys schooled Virgin Valley and its kickball philosophy with a precise ball-control offense, as the Warriors advanced to the Nevada 3A boys state soccer quarterfinals with a 2-0 victory Saturday in Zephyr Cove.
“We did a nice job of passing the ball around and getting our head up and seeing the field,” said Whittell coach Steve Maltase. “I thought we could have scored a couple more goals if we would have had some patience and hit the target with a couple of shots. But we created some opportunities, and that’s all that really matters.”
Added senior halfback Kyle Spingola, who assisted on one of Whittell’s two goals, “We came out and did what we like to do by passing the ball around. If we keep doing it, we should keep our season going for two more games.”
Twelve excellent scoring opportunities came and went for Whittell in the first half. But with the clock ticking down, the Warriors gave Virgin Valley a dose of its own medicine. Senior Chris Markt, sensing an opportunity, went after a deep kick that Virgin Valley failed to redirect. Markt beat the defender to the ball and headed the shot into the left side of the goal as goalie David Argaez came out too late to thwart the score.
“They weren’t heading the balls in the air,” Markt said. “They’d let them bounce once, and I just tried to get there before the (defenders) did. The ball bounced and I just got my head on it.”
Not bad for a first-year player making his playoff debut.
“That really was a goal on pure hustle,” Maltase said. “He’s really come along tremendously this year. It seems like every year I get a kid who comes out for soccer his senior year. He wishes, and I wish, that he played all four years.”
The unassisted goal with four minutes left in the half eliminated some of the frustration the Warriors felt after aggressive Todd Echan and Nestor Flores couldn’t find the back of the net on three good scoring chances apiece.
“Last week we were stressed out because we only scored one goal,” Markt said. “We decided to come in here and play our game. Once we got that goal, we smelt the blood.”
The goal also allowed Maltase to relax a little bit.
“It was a good time for it, because you don’t want to let teams hang around, or else they get confidence and then it’s a dogfight,” Maltase said.
Senior Scott Corwin removed any uncertainty of a playoff upset when he blasted a cross from Spingola into the top center of the goal 12 minutes into the second half.
“Opportunity struck, so I just put it right in the back of the net,” said Corwin, who shifted from defense to center-midfielder in the second half.
Whittell, 16-6-1, will meet North Tahoe in Friday’s semifinals in Spring Creek. North Tahoe stomped Pahrump, 6-0, on Saturday.
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