Whittell soccer back in the playoffs
It’s been a few years, but the Whittell High girls’ soccer team already has a blueprint for advancing in this week’s Northern 3A regional tournament. In 2002, the Warriors were a No. 4 seed and knocked off top-seeded Spring Creek in the first round of the playoffs.
The same situation is possible on Thursday, when fourth-seeded Whittell plays the top-seeded Spartans (12-6-3) in a first-round game at 4 p.m. in Winnemucca.
“I think it would mean a lot to this program if we are able to advance past the first round,” said second-year coach Lydia von Rumpf, whose team brings a 13-7 overall record into the match. “Whittell has such a strong volleyball program that upcoming athletes sometimes choose one sport or the other. Advancing in the playoffs could possibly lure better athletes into the program.”
The Warriors certainly have a chance to do that.
On Oct. 21, Whittell lost to Spring Creek 1-0 in a nonleague contest in Spring Creek. The Warriors had 18 shots on goal in that game but couldn’t crack the Spartans’ defense. However, they are convinced they can beat the Sagebrush League regular season champion.
“I think we’re pretty evenly matched,” said senior Marissa McKool, who played in Whittell’s last regional playoff game in 2003. “It will probably be the most physical match we will play this season. It’s a really big deal because we even have a chance to go to state.”
The Whittell-Spring Creek winner plays the Incline-Lowry winner on Friday in the zone semifinals. Incline, which beat North Tahoe and Truckee last week, is expected to beat the Buckaroos, which could set up a possible rematch against the Warriors.
In their two meetings this season, the Highlanders won twice and outscored Whittell 5-2. But both games weren’t decided until late in the game.
One reason for the Warriors’ improved play is freshman Hannah Daly, a Region IV Olympic Developmental Team goalie that has emerged as the league’s top keeper. When not positioned between the pipes, Daly plays forward and leads the team with 14 goals.
Sophomore Sasha Rupp is second on the team with 10 goals, and both players will be key to Whittell’s postseason aspirations.
“We also have two players back from injury in (defenders) Marissa McKool and Austyn Harrington,” von Rumpf said. “Spring Creek plays with three forwards so having them back is very important for us.”
In other first-round games in Winnemucca, Dayton plays North Tahoe and Fernley takes on Sierra League champion Truckee. The top two teams in the regional tournament advance to next week’s 3A state tournament.