Whittell boys wrap league title with win at Lovelock
Whittell’s boys clinched the Northern Nevada 3A Division II soccer championship on Friday, with a 1-0 win at Lovelock.
Whittell earned a home game for the first round of the playoffs with Friday’s win, and gained sole possession of the division title, which the Warriors shared with Incline last year. Kyle Spingola’s goal off an assist from Todd Echan in the 54th minute proved to be the game-winner for Whittell.
“I think it took a while for us to figure out who to play and at what position,” said Whittell head coach Steve Maltase. “It takes a while before you click.”
Whittell, though, has clicked in a big way. The Warriors have won their last seven in clinching the division. Whittell finished the regular season with a 15-6-1 overall record, 8-2 in division play, putting the Warriors out of Bishop Manogue’s reach. The Warriors have outscored their last three opponents 10-2.
“I think our guys gained some confidence in the past few weeks,” said Maltase, who added his team’s first goal was to make the playoffs, then play at home.
Whittell couldn’t score in the first half on Friday, but kept the offensive pressure on Lovelock. Warriors goalie Joe Piccola had to make two saves to preserve the shutout, while Whittell forced Piccola’s counterpart to make 19 to keep Lovelock in the game.
Whittell returns to action at 1 p.m. Saturday in Zephyr Cove, playing host to the third seed from Las Vegas.
Warriors drop football finale to Lovelock
Playoff-bound Lovelock proved to be too much for Whittell to handle in its football finale on Thursday, as the host Mustangs cruised to a 76-12 win.
Lovelock scored off of Whittell turnovers on the first two Warriors drives to take the early lead, then opened up a 30-point advantage before Whittell could get on the board. Whittell trailed 52-21 at halftime, and the Mustangs added 14 points for the final margin.
“They pretty much mowed us over on the offensive line,” said Whittell head coach John Summers, whose Warriors finished the season 2-6 overall (2-4 in Northern Nevada 3A Division II). “They just pretty much had our kids going backwards on every play.”
Lovelock stuffed Whittell’s running game, holding the Warriors to negative one yard on 12 carries. The focus on the ground game did allow Warriors quarterback Trent Gordon to pass for 173 yards, but Gordon did most of his damage in the second quarter when the game already was out of reach.
With Thursday’s win and Bishop Manogue’s win over Dayton on Friday, Lovelock locked up the second playoff berth in the division. The Mustangs improved to 6-2 overall, 5-1 in Division II with the win. Whittell has faced both playoff-bound teams in the past three weeks, and Summers rated Lovelock the better of the two teams physically, but rated Manogue’s finesse and depth higher than Lovelock’s.
Whittell lost its last game as a 3A team, but were able to win twice in their division. Whittell beat Incline on Sept. 18, and followed that up with a homecoming win over Hawthorne on Oct. 23. The win over Incline broke a 21-game losing streak that dated to the 1996 playoffs, and seemed to set Whittell in a new direction. Both Incline and Hawthorne will move down to 2A next season along with Whittell.
“We did improve,” Summers said. “We were able to move the ball a whole lot better this year. Defensively, we had a couple of good games, and we had a couple of disastrous games.”
While Whittell will lose a number of important seniors, like Gordon, lineman Matt Miller and running back and defensive back Matt Wiggins, the lack of a junior varsity did allow Whittell’s younger players to gain experience. But Summers pointed out wins won’t come automatically when Whittell moves to 2A.
“The kids are going to have to find time in the offseason to make themselves better football players,” Summers said.
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