Title town: North Tahoe boys, girls claim state gold | SierraSun.com

Title town: North Tahoe boys, girls claim state gold

The North Tahoe boys and girls’ soccer teams pose after sweeping the Class 2A state soccer championships.
Courtesy photo

The North Tahoe soccer program doubled down on championships last weekend with the boys and girls each hoisting a state trophy following back-to-back wins at home in the Class 2A tournament finals.

The boys’ team took to the pitch first on Saturday morning at North Tahoe Regional Park and set the tone for the day’s championship matches, piling up four goals before halftime against rivals Incline. From there, the Lakers added three more goals to take a 7-1 victory and the program’s first state title since 2006.

“These boys just wanted to win, to be champions, and break that 15-year wait,” said first-year head coach Omar Vargas. “It was just a great group to have. I’m just proud and grateful for the group of guys I had and everything they did — the whole brotherhood that we’ve tried to establish, and I think they bought in. They knew the goal and expectations and lived up to them.”

Junior Fabian Chavez led the Lakers with two goals and three assists. Junior Luke Buchanan and senior Martin Herrera added two goals each.

“It’s a sweet note to end on,” said Herrera of the game. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Freshman Alex Guerrero also found the back of the net for the Lakers. Freshman Santi Quezada and senior Ricardo Navarro assisted on goals. Sophomore keeper Ismael Hererra shutout Incline in the first half, before senior Luis Martinez took over in the second half to guide North Tahoe to the win.

“We worked hard this season. It was a good way to wrap up our four years of playing high school soccer,” said senior captain Declan McGarry. “It means a lot to end with a state title. It’s a good way to cap off our high school soccer career.”

After 15 years between state championships, Vargas, who took over last spring after serving as a longtime assistant for the team, said the players’ efforts off the field and in the classroom are what led to Saturday’s title.

“They responded to my message about grades,” he said. “They were eligible all year. I gave them a huge challenge — you gotta keep your grades up — and they did and they saw their hard work paid off in the end.”

For several seasons the Lakers played in Class 3A, but following Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association restructuring of leagues, the team found themselves playing in the newly formed Class 2A — a division North Tahoe went 6-0 in during the regular season while outscoring their opponents by a combined margin of 42-4. Ultimately, Vargas said he hopes to see the program return to Class 3A.

“We like to compete and we feel like 3A is more competitive for us,” he said. “Even though we are a smaller school, we feel like we can keep up. We want to prove we can hang.”

Following the boys’ game, the Lady Lakers took the field — also facing Tahoe rivals Incline — and made it a clean sweep for the school’s soccer program.

North Tahoe came into the state title matchup with an 11-0 league record, having outscored their opponents by a combined margin of 82-3. Their matchup against the Highlanders would be no different as the Lakers captured a 3-0 win behind goals from senior Annie Kratz , freshman Sienna Clark, and sophomore Alexandra Servin.

“With all of the girls not having a season last year, coming into this year, especially for the seniors to win state was a huge deal,” said head coach Stephanie Bales. “They worked hard over the last few years and deserve it.”

Bales was named Class 2A coach of the year. Senior captain Brenna Ritchie earned league MVP honors, and sophomore Bergen Garrity was named league defensive player of the year.

Additionally, Kratz, sophomore Keadle Verkler, freshman Esme Roberts, and senior Kacey Benjaminson all earned first-team all-league selections. Freshman Sienna Clark, freshman Scout Mitchell, and senior Taylor Brooke were named to the second-team all-league. Freshman Emily Navabpour and sophomore Alexandra Servin were named to the league’s honorable mention list.

Justin Scacco is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at jscacco@sierrasun.com

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