Warriors gain confidence by tying North Tahoe
What do Warriors do? They battle.
For 80 minutes Wednesday, the Whittell High boys soccer team did battle with the North Tahoe Lakers in Zephyr Cove. And while the outcome resulted in a 1-1 draw, much more than a point in the standings came out of this game.
“It felt so good to see our team out there playing like they did today,” Warrior team captain Brett Schussel said. “Everybody came together and did their part. We all worked together, big time.”
From the opening whistle the play looked much like the inside of a pinball machine, with balls bouncing around from team to team and from goal line to goal line.
“It was pretty scrappy out there,” Laker coach Bert Alcaraz said. “On both sides, the defenders were just clearing the ball and not getting it to anyone specifically.”
However, that all changed in the 16th minute when a Laker forward crossed a ball from the right side to an unmarked teammate sitting about 15 yards out.
Fortunately for the Warriors, the Laker midfielder put too much pace on the ball and rocketed it off the crossbar.
“Everyone gets their breaks,” Warrior keeper Devon Farnsworth said of the missed Laker opportunity. “We’ve had some tough breaks in previous games, but that particular one fell our way.”
As both sides began stepping up their offense late in the first half, Farnsworth fired up his defense. The sophomore keeper was able to stop all six shots he faced and the Warriors took a 0-0 tie into halftime.
“Devon did a great job today,” Warrior coach Steve Maltase said. “He’s getting a lot better with his timing and he was in the right place at the right time in every situation.”
The second half saw the Lakers come out surging in the Warriors’ zone, but solid defense by Schussel and sweeper Justin Haynes kept the ball out of the net.
But in the 56th minute, the Warriors’ hard work became even more difficult when Laker forward Mario Cervantes buried an indirect kick from six yards out.
The kick came off a questionable call from the right-side official, who whistled down play after Haynes inadvertently touched the ball to Farnsworth inside the goal box. Rules state that a pass from a defender to the keeper in the box results in a free kick from where the foul took place.
“It’s just unfortunate,” Maltase said. “From our angle it looked like it was an inadvertent touch, but it’s the guy’s call and he’s closer than I am.”
Down a goal with 24 minutes left in the match, the Warriors did not let the controversial call get them down. Instead, they played inspired team soccer and pressed the Laker zone with great passing and scoring chances.
Their hard work paid off in the 68th minute when Nestor Flores sprinted down the right side and made a hard cross into the middle. The well-struck ball, headed for the foot of Oscar Cortez, deflected off a Laker defender and rolled past the keeper for the equalizer.
“I was looking for Oscar and I guess I just got a lucky break,” Flores said.
After the Warriors broke the tie, a late push by Lakers saw Farnsworth make yet another brilliant save when a hard shot deflected off his right post right onto the foot of a Laker midfielder. Farnsworth reacted perfectly to the deflection and slid to his right just as the ball was launched toward that very section of free space.
“I’m really working on trying to be in the right place at the right time,” Farnsworth said. “That was just one of those incidences where I was.”
As the final whistle secured the 1-1 draw, the team ran off the field the same way they came on, unified.
“We’ve struggled with unity on occasion this year,” Maltase said. “It was really nice to see them all come together and fight for the same cause.”
A proud Warrior captain agreed.
“We played more as a team then we ever have,” Schussel said. “We united, kept the ball on the ground and played Warrior soccer … it was great.”
WHS girls sunk by the Lakers
Battling against a veteran North Tahoe High squad, the Whittell Warrior girls soccer team fell to a 10-0 defeat Wednesday in Nevada 3A soccer in Zephyr Cove.
“We have a young team and North Tahoe is really experienced,” Warrior forward Jackie Laurian said.
One highlight in the lopsided defeat were some great saves by sophomore goalkeeper Elise Thomas.
“Elise played a great game,” Warrior coach Mike Leeper said. “The score could’ve been a lot more if not for some great saves.”
While Leeper knows he has a young squad, he didn’t want to take anything away from North Tahoe’s victory.
“They are a great team, probably the frontrunners for the title,” he said.
The Warriors will put the loss behind them and focus their energies on another tough match. They will face the Incline Highlanders on Saturday at 10 a.m. in Incline Village.
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