South Tahoe Lady Vikings eye state run in 2018 |

South Tahoe Lady Vikings eye state run in 2018

Vikings sophomore Kelsey Hogan puts a shot on net last weekend during the season-opening South Tahoe Invitational.
Bill Rozak / Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The South Tahoe Lady Vikings are young, fast, fit, talented and extremely hungry.

For the last three years, they have come up a win or two short of winning a state soccer championship, although the Vikings are so young that not everybody remembers the heartbreak.

South Tahoe head coach Mark Salmon is expecting nothing less than a great season from his young team that will feature more freshmen and sophomores in the starting lineup as juniors and seniors.

“It’s a 100 percent certainty we want a state title,” Salmon said Tuesday before practice. “We’d like to run through with a clean slate all the way to the final. We’ve tasted it the last three years finishing second twice and a loss in the semifinals, it’s left a bad taste. We’ve all experienced it and don’t want to again and don’t want to repeat it. It’s a league title, regional title and then a state title.”

Viking senior Lillie McGuire has been on each of those teams that suffered losses just before reaching their goal. The defender will be a co-captain and said the Vikings drive to do better this year started at the end of last year and ramped up this summer with offseason 5-day per week workouts led by South Tahoe’s strength and conditioning coach, Everett Goldberg.

Back squats, power cleans, circuit training, jumping jacks, jumping rope were among the weight training exercises three days a week and then it was lots of running on the other two days, McGuire said.

“Mostly everyone on this team went through the summer program,” McGuire said. “Most of our team has 100 percent workout T-shirts for not missing any days.”

And that includes the three freshmen Marley Befu, Angelina Maltase and Jenna Pevanage.

McGuire is one of four seniors — co-captains Quinn Simpson and Riley Turner and Andrea Vazquez are the others — to go along with four juniors, seven sophomores and three freshmen on the 18-player roster.

Of the 61 goals the Vikings scored a year ago, just 19 came from seniors.

Sophomores Kelsey Hogan and Giovana De Loia combined for 21 goals and assisted on 20 others. The speedy strikers will again be on the front line this year.

“Not being the youngest out there is a plus,” said Hogan, who led the team last year with 13 goals and 11 assists. “Starting as a freshman was nerve-wracking. We have three more freshmen starting this year and that’s pretty cool. I think we’re one of the hardest working teams I’ve seen. I’m super excited to see where we go.”

The Vikings have a few games under their belts starting with the South Tahoe Invitational last weekend that featured about 20 schools and was played over five fields. The 3A division Vikings won three of four games and their lone loss was to Bishop Gorman, the defending 4A Nevada state champs. But they scored and the team was excited that was the only goal Bishop Gorman surrendered in the tournament.

The Vikings also began Northern League play on Tuesday and defeated Churchill 4-0 with single goals each from Macy Perez, Befu, De Loia and Branda Warden. Salmon said the Vikings will have to go through Truckee, North Tahoe, Elko and Incline among other schools in the 3A Northern League to reach their goals.

But the title really goes through Truckee who has won the last two league, regional and state championships.

The Wolverines defeated the Vikings last year for the regional and state championships.

Hogan responded with one word, and said it a few times, with a team she’d especially like to beat this season.

“Truckee. … Truckee, Truckee,” Hogan said.

Salmon credits the growing South Tahoe Futbol Club program as the reason kids are breaking into the varsity lineup at such young ages.

“It’s a tribute to our phenomenal club program,” Salmon said. “We should have far more depth for years to come. Marley, Befu and Angelina are all very talented and confident. They worked super hard as eighth graders coming in and working out with Everett this summer, they were stars on their club teams.

The Vikings will also feature sophomore Phoebe Barkann in goal. Barkann started every game last year. She had 11 clean sheets and gave up just 24 goals in 25 games.

“There’s a lot of pressure on Phoebe, she’s still young,” Salmon said. “She did a great job and started every game last year for us between the pipes.”

At least six of the starting 11 will be freshmen and sophomores but that doesn’t temper the expectations. They think if they bond and stay together, great things could happen.

“State is the No. 1 goal for this team and I think we can do it,” Hogan said. “Our team, we seem to be pretty close, and in order to win state we need to have that close relationship that we had last year.”

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