North Tahoe girls soccer players were dealt a bum deal to end their 2012 season.
With this year’s talented group, the Lakers might just be able to rinse that sour taste with a redemptive run at a state championship — the last of which was earned in 2005.
“They’re looking good. I’m excited,” said first-year North Tahoe coach Kristin Carlson, who took over the program from Jon Rockwood after helping as an assistant coach the past few seasons.
“We have a number of girls who have been on varsity for three or four years, so that’s good to build on that experience. And then we have five new players and we lost five players from last year. We miss the people who are gone, but they’re filling in nicely. I think we have a good team this year.”
Last year’s North Tahoe team did not make the postseason, and it remains a sore subject.
The NIAA for the first time ever broke the smaller Division III (and DIV) schools like North Tahoe and Incline into their own regional and state tournament, but only after playing the regular season among the competitive Mount Rose League (aka Sierra League) against some of the top Division I-A and Division III schools — namely, Truckee and South Tahoe and Incline and Whittell.
Based on a power rankings system that favored the small schools from outside of the Lake Tahoe area, whose competition was decidedly less than their Tahoe-area counterparts, Pershing County and White Pine made the playoffs instead of North Tahoe, which earned shutout wins against both teams during the regular season. Incline went on to win the first-ever Division III state title over Whittell, as both schools marched through the playoffs.
But that’s history.
This year marks the first season in which the Division III schools are in their own soccer league from the start. The playoff format is straight-forward, with each team in the league playing each other twice during the regular season. The top four Northern teams based on league records advance to the regional tournament.
The Lakers are off to a quick 2-0 start in their new league after routing Battle Mountain and Pershing County by a combined score of 19-0 last weekend.
Returners and newcomers alike contributed to the big wins, as 11 different players scored goals, led by hat tricks (three goals in a game) by sophomores Bryn Anderson and Valencia Covell.
While North Tahoe graduated five players, including two All-League selections, the team returns the league’s Defensive MVP in senior goalie Angela Wood, as well as first-team selections Emily Pieper and Kami Abi-Nader. Bozhie Pokorny and Julia Semmens return after receiving honorable mention recognition.
Abi-Nader is among the top sweepers in the state and Pieper one of the top scorers. Kasey Foster, a junior, is the Lakers’ stopper, while sophomores Emma DesLauriers and Allison Wright also start on defense.
The Lakers’ roster is 18 players deep, with plenty more talent in Sara Trimm, Zoe Anderson, Allie Doyle, Francesca English, Johanna Gur, Audrey Johnson, Haley Perkins and Emma Sproehnie.
“I think we’re actually going to get offense from a lot of people,” Carlson said.
As far as North Tahoe’s new league, Carlson expects Incline and Whittell to pose the stiffest challenge, as both Tahoe schools have dominated their Northern Division III opponents thus far.