‘No team does it like us’: Lakers repeat as soccer state champions
TAHOE VISTA, Calif. — The North Tahoe girls’ soccer team is back-to-back state champions.
The Lakers concluded a perfect run through Class 2A with a 5-2 win against Sage Ridge in Saturday’s Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association state championship match.
“All these girls have been together for a couple years now and it’s like a sisterhood. We are always there for each other,” said senior captain Ashley Negrete, who finished the game with one goal. “We were ready to come out strong and we wanted it more. We were hungry.”
Senior Ella Costello said she was anxious coming in to Saturday’s championship match at North Tahoe Regional Park. Thoughts of how she would perform in her final game and whether or not she’d end her high school career with a state championship swirled in her head minutes before the match got underway.
“I came into this game really nervous,” said Costello, the team’s second leading scorer. “I called my dad within 10 minutes of the game and I was like, ‘What if I play bad? What if I don’t score? I can’t play bad my last game ever.’”
Not only did Costello play well, she was outstanding, netting three goals and assisting on another to lead the Lakers to back-to-back state titles.
Costello propelled North Tahoe to a 3-1 lead at halftime with a pair of goals in the opening 40 minutes of play.
Sage Ridge would pull within a goal early in the second half, converting a penalty kick to make the game 3-2.
“After that I got pretty fired up,” said Costello. “I was like, ‘Well I’m not about to lose this state championship.’”
Within a couple minutes the lead would be back to two goals and out of reach for Sage Ridge as Costello found the back of the net to complete the hat trick.
North Tahoe’s leading scorer, junior Keadle Verkler, finished the game with a goal and two assists. Verkler, who led North Tahoe on the season with 37 goals and 45 assists, credited the team’s success to the strong bonds that have formed during the past few years of playing together.
“We all are a bunch of goofballs together,” she said. “The hardest I’ve ever laughed is with this team right here. We’re our own little family.”
North Tahoe finishes the season with a 16-0 record in league play and a 20-4 record overall.
During postseason play, the Lakers topped Incline 4-0 in Friday’s semifinals. Costello had two goals and an assist in the game. Verkler had three assists. Negrete and junior Ginny Gibeaut each scored a goal.
As a program, North Tahoe has gone undefeated in Class 2A play for two straight seasons.
“No team does it like us — back to back state champions,” said junior captain Alexandra Servin.
The North Tahoe soccer program will likely move back to Class 3A next season, according to Head Coach Stephanie Bales, but an official decision has yet to be made by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association. The Lakers played in Class 3A until the formation of the Class 2A league in 2021.
“As our team and our school, we’ve grown and have so many more kids that I feel like this is proof that we need to move up and get more of a challenge,” said Verkler. “I’m excited for next year to see how that goes.”
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