Truckee soccer edges North Tahoe for regional championship
The sun was high over head as the North Tahoe-Truckee Northern 3A Boys Soccer Championship title game began in Fallon on Saturday. The game promised to be hard-fought, as the last match-up between the two league powers resulted in a controversial 1-0 win for Truckee.
A battle it was, as both teams went elbow to elbow for 80 minutes before the Wolverines once again narrowly defeated the Lakers, this time by a score of 3-2.
From the opening whistle Truckee came out charging. Attacking the North Tahoe defenders with explosive runs and good inside passing, the aggressive Truckee forwards ripped the North Tahoe net with three goals in the first 25 minutes. The sluggish Lakers couldn’t keep up with Truckee shots, such as senior Victor Islas’ blast for goal No. 2.
Truckee coach Tom “Arnie” Arnstein was pleased with his team’s passionate start to the game.
“We came out and played very good soccer in the first half,” Arnstein said. “Playing smart helped us get our scoring opportunities.”
Though down by three goals, the Lakers did not play dead.
The intensity on the pitch skyrocketed as the Lakers woke up and started fighting back. The game got rougher and both teams were guilty of blatant strong-arm tactics. But the referees kept the match under control, and only one yellow card was thrown despite shirt pulling and flying elbows.
Capitalizing on a play after a Truckee penalty, North Tahoe found further inspiration in a goal from junior Jonathan Delfino with three minutes left in the first half. North Tahoe coach Beto Alcaraz was not surprised by the bumping and shoving, nor his team’s reaction.
“We know Truckee is a physical team. We’re a finesse team,” Alcaraz said. “We started playing smarter as it got rougher.”
Starting the second half, the Lakers upped their offensive ante with better passing and patient attacks. Truckee was slow to respond.
“North Tahoe did a good job switching it up in the second half,” Arnstein said. “That brought us out of our game for awhile.”
But the Truckee defense was still tenacious and did not allow many shots. It wasn’t until three minutes left in the game that North Tahoe scored again, this time off a nice shot from senior Gerry Bolanos.
Despite drawing within one goal, the Lakers’ resurgence was squashed by the final whistle.
Arnstein attributed the win to all-around hustle by every player.
“It was a total team win,” the coach said. “Not any one person won the game for us. We played team soccer.”
Alcaraz took the loss in stride, knowing his team still qualified for the Nevada State High School Soccer Championship on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 9-10.
“We’re in,” Alcaraz of the state tournament. “Second seed from the Northern region. We’re not dead yet. We’ll get back at this.”
Winning the regional championship secured the Wolverines the first seed at state. They will play Incline, the third seed from the Northern region, in a semifinal at Reno’s Mackay Stadium on Friday.
North Tahoe secured the second seed and will play the first seed from the Southern region in Friday’s other semifinal game.
If both the Wolverines and Lakers win, they will meet again Saturday at Damonte Ranch High School for the 3A state title.
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