Whittell boys soccer season ends | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Whittell boys soccer season ends

Mike Traum

INCLINE VILLAGE – In sports, the team that comes out flat usually finds itself in trouble.

And that’s just what happened to the Whittell High boys soccer team, as it was eliminated from postseason contention 2-1 on Saturday. Needing only a tie with the Highlanders to earn a repeat trip to the Northern Nevada 3A state championships, Whittell saw an early lead slip away on the heels of a lackluster first half and inability to challenge the Incline net.

“We played flat in the first half. I told them, if you can’t get up for a game like this, I don’t really know what to tell you,” said Whittell coach Steve Maltase. “It’s very disappointing. These guys have put out a ton of work this year. Our goal was to go to the state championship. It wasn’t to get to this spot and stop.”

The Warriors managed just one shot on goal during the first 40 minutes. Phil Barnes streaked down the middle and one-timed a textbook left cross from Dusty Apocotos to give the red and gold a 1-0 lead about 25 minutes in.

“I was just running up the center and Dusty crossed it perfectly. The goalkeeper got off balance and I knocked it in the right corner. When it’s that perfect of a cross, if you blow it you might as well quit the team,” Barnes said.

But Incline, which outshot the Warriors 19 to 2, made its constant pressure pay off just a few minutes later. Whittell keeper Jesse Rizzo had a high looping shot from 30 yards out slip through his outstretched hands, which Incline’s Ryan Croke collected and socked home. Then just minutes later, Rizzo came out of the box wide to his right but couldn’t secure a loose ball, which left him out of position. Ryan Lanz coolly belted the back-right of the open net for the eventual game-winner.

Whittell stepped up the intensity in the second half, but still couldn’t manage a net assault, forcing Incline keeper Kevin Lustig to make just one save. Even when the Warriors turned and fired, the swarming Highlanders would step in front to deflect the shot.

“We knew we had to go out and play as hard as we could for 80 minutes. I think it was to our advantage,” said Incline coach Todd Beane. “(Whittell’s) goal was early and we actually had many legitimate chances to their one. We were playing well enough not to worry.”

The Warriors finished the season with a 6-4 league mark.

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