North Tahoe soccer | Laker boys, girls edge Whittell | SierraSun.com

North Tahoe soccer | Laker boys, girls edge Whittell

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun

Sylas Wright / Sierra SunNorth Tahoe junior Trevor Semmens wins a 50-50 ball during the Lakers' 2-0 win against Whittell.

TAHOE CITY, Calif. and#8212; One-point leads hardly feel safe when these teams meet.

The North Tahoe boys’ and girls’ soccer teams both eked out closely contested Sierra League wins against visiting Whittell on Thursday, the boys by a score of 2-0 and the girls 1-0.

and#8220;I thought it was very evenly matched,and#8221; Whittell boys’ head coach Steve Maltase said of their game. and#8220;I thought it was a clean game and well played.and#8221;

After a back-and-forth opening 18 minutes, the Laker boys broke the scoreless tie when Trevor Semmens sent a perfectly placed cross to Jonathan Gonzalez directly in front of the Whittell goal, and Gonzalez punched it in for a 1-0 lead.

The rest of the half, and most of the second, was relatively uneventful, with neither squad gaining an advantage.

and#8220;It was pretty even. That was a pretty tough Whittell team,and#8221; said North Tahoe head coach Beto Alcaraz. and#8220;Luckily, we put one in in the first half, and that gave us a little bit of a cushion.and#8221;

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But the lead was far from safe until the final two minutes of the contest. In the 78th minute, Semmens extended the Lakers’ advantage to 2-0 with a header goal deep inside the box off an assist from Hugo Moreno.

and#8220;That was a lot better than we’ve been playing this year,and#8221; said Semmens. and#8220;We were passing the ball better and creating more opportunities. Overall, it was a good game.and#8221;

Alcaraz was relieved after watching his team cling to its narrow lead for 60 minutes.

and#8220;We knew Whittell would come out strong in the second half, so we prepared for that and I thought we played better in the second half. But that second goal was definitely a big relief,and#8221; Alcaraz said.

Maltase credited Warriors stopper Spenser Buchholz for a game well played, as well as goalie Austin Neil, who made a couple of nice saves in the second half.

and#8220;North Tahoe looked improved since the last time we played them,and#8221; Maltase said. and#8220;I think they might just be a little more skilled than we are.and#8221;

North Tahoe improved to 3-4-1 in Sierra League play while Whittell fell to 1-6-1.

In the girls’ game, a scoreless draw seemed a likely outcome through 40 minutes of equally matched play.

Five minutes into the second half, however, Emily Pieper provided all the offense the Lakers would need. The sophomore striker knocked down a pass from Audrie Johnson with one touch and drilled the ball into the back of the net to the right of Whittell goalie Brittany Boulet.

But, again, the one-goal margin was not safe as the Warriors scrapped to score the equalizer, which they almost did on a couple of occasions. Second-half goalie Angela Wood came up huge with two skilled saves, while Alicia Pieper made perhaps the defensive play of the game in the final 10 minutes when she raced in and knocked the ball away from Jenny Shepack on a breakaway.

and#8220;I was frustrated with the risks we were taking in the last 10 minutes,and#8221; said North Tahoe head coach Jon Rockwood. and#8220;We needed to keep our composure there and gauge what’s going on in the game. But I thought Whittell did an excellent job of keeping their heads in the game, really for the last 35 minutes. They stepped it up.

and#8220;We’re lucky Angela made two great saves. Whittell deserved the second-half momentum, despite our goal.and#8221;

Said Emily Pieper: and#8220;I think we need to take more shots, and our defense could be a little stronger. But other than that, we did pretty good.and#8221;

Whittell head coach Patrick Kelly said he was pleased with his team’s effort, particularly Sierra Forvilly at sweeper, Whitney Gardner at stopper and Skylar Smith in the center midfield.

and#8220;I thought both teams played really hard. We hit a couple shots off the crossbar and they had a shot that looped in. That’s soccer,and#8221; Kelly said. and#8220;The second half we had a number of shots that their goalie made some good saves on.and#8221;

North Tahoe is now 3-4-1 in league and Whittell 1-5-2.