Warriors can’t get bugs out in state semifinal loss
You didn’t want to be an extra on the Whittell High sideline Friday at the Nevada 3A boys state soccer semifinals at Spring Creek – the Warriors were contagious.
Not only did the Warriors have to fight two-time defending state champion North Tahoe, but untimely cases of strep throat and stomach viruses spread through the team prior to their biggest match of the season. Still, the Warriors gave North Tahoe all it wanted, tying the match early in the second half before the Lakers scored two late goals for a 3-1 win.
“Guys were hurt and sick and they didn’t complain. They just went out and did the best they could, and we lost to a good team,” said Whittell coach Steve Maltase. “We don’t have the depth to recover from any kind of setbacks.”
Nestor Flores pulled Whittell even at 1 in the 49th minute, as he netted a blast from 18 yards out. The lift from the tying goal nearly sparked a go-ahead score.
“For the next 10 to 15 minutes until they scored, we had them on their heels,” Maltase said. “But sometimes when you put pressure on a team, you get counterattacked, and that’s what happened.”
North Tahoe’s decisive score came when two Whittell players went up together for a header, and the ball carried past them. Then a Laker beat Whittell keeper Joe Piccola one on one to make the score 2-1. The clincher came on another one-on-one situation minutes later.
“We played them really hard,” said Warriors senior Todd Echan. “We had a few guys who were injured and sick, and they had big hearts and played through it.”
Without some key saves by Piccola the outcome could have been much worse.
“Joe had his best game ever,” Maltase said. “He had at least four or five one-on-one situations where he stuffed them.”
The Warriors hung around Spring Creek on Saturday and watched the Lakers lose 2-1 to Truckee in the finals.
“I felt so bad because I knew we could have been there,” Echan said. “I felt cheated when two California schools were playing for the Nevada state championship. I kind of wish we would have played The Meadows to see who the best in Nevada was.”
Maltase, who has guided the Warriors to the state semifinals and the Division II title the past two years, appreciated their efforts.
“We met our goals, and they have nothing to be ashamed of,” said Maltase, whose Warriors finished with a 16-7-1 record.
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