Soccer powers to clash
North Tahoe and Truckee. In prep soccer speak, the names are synonymous with success ” as in top of the state, cream of the crop, year in and year out.
Look in the Nevada record book. The history is thick, each school’s dominance in clear print. The Tahoe League powers reign supreme.
On the girls’ side, the Truckee and North Tahoe programs are locked in a tie for most state championships ” five.
Same was true with the boys until last year, when the Lakers defeated the Wolverines in the title game to break the tie and capture their state record sixth championship.
It doesn’t stop there, as the perennial powers rank one-two in nearly every category, offense and defense, team and individual.
When the longtime rivals clash, as they do twice a year during the regular season, then again in the postseason, results cannot be predicted. Hard-nosed intensity from the players and fan fervor are the only guarantees.
“Who knows what will happen,” Beto Alcaraz, head coach of the Lakers, said of today’s match-up at Truckee’s Surprise Stadium. “It’s going to be a difficult game.”
That’s the extent of the coach’s forecast, regardless of his team’s 6-0 win over the Wolverines on Sept. 11. After all, who would have guessed such a lopsided score in the first meeting?
“I wasn’t expecting that kind of score,” Alcaraz said. “North Tahoe-Truckee games are always decided (by one point). They’re always very close games.”
Tom “Arnie” Arnstein, first-year head coach of the Wolverines, got his first taste of the rivalry during the showdown at North Tahoe last month.
“It’s a lot of fun playing games like that,” Arnstein said. “Rival games are always fun. I enjoyed it a lot ” obviously not the result.”
The result marked the only loss of the season for the Truckee boys, who are 15-1 overall and 4-1 in the Northern 3A Tahoe League. In eight games since facing the Lakers, the Wolverines have outscored their opponents 60-7.
North Tahoe has taken a different approach to its regular season, as Alcaraz stacked his schedule with tough non-league games against larger California and Nevada schools. As a result, the Lakers’ overall record of 10-4-4 is slightly less impressive than that of their foes. North Tahoe also tied Sparks twice in underachieving efforts, and is 3-0-2 in the Tahoe League.
For the Wolverines to pull off their revenge and hand the Lakers their only league loss, they must contain senior striker Gerry Bolanos, who scored four goals against Truckee, and has done the same to other opponents since.
Despite Bolanos’ offensive production ” his coach estimates he has 18 or 20 goals on the season ” both Arnstein and Alcaraz agree that North Tahoe is far from a one-man show.
“They have a well-balanced team,” Arnstein said, adding that if his players hope to win, they cannot focus strictly on Bolanos. “We know their whole team is good, so we’ve got to shut them down.”
On the girls’ side, the Sept. 11 rival game settled nothing after ending in a controversial 3-3 tie.
With the score knotted at 3-3 in the final minutes, Truckee junior Katie Dill broke through North Tahoe’s defending back line and scored the apparent winning goal.
Not so fast, the linesman signaled, ruling that a Wolverine was offside. But after conferring with the center referee, the goal was counted.
North Tahoe senior Chelsea Patrick then argued the call, and the ref ruled that the offside flag stood, negating the score.
Both girls teams are atop the league standings. (Records were not available at press time.)
About the only spoiler that could dampen the rivals’ second round is the weather, which, according to reports, may roll into the area today.
“I just hope the weather cooperates,” Alcaraz said. “I hope the rain doesn’t hamper anything on the field. It’s nice to see two good teams go at it in perfect conditions.”
The North Tahoe and Truckee high soccer teams play at Truckee’s Surprise Stadium today (Tuesday). The boys start at 2 p.m. and the girls at 4 ” unless rain postpones the contests. The games also mark Truckee’s senior farewell.
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