Incline girls take state from Truckee
LAS VEGAS ” The Truckee High girls soccer team ” which has played a dominant game nearly all season and has shown skill, poise and drive, as well as flat-out tough defense and a nose for the goal attack throughout the fall ” was slightly off its game Saturday afternoon at the Bettye Wilson soccer complex.
It just so happened that the game the Wolverines were off in was the Nevada 3A state final, and the Incline side it faced was definitely on, taking down Truckee by a 2-0 final score to earn the state championship.
“Incline came out a little harder today,” Truckee head coach Amy Valdivia said after the game.
However, as Valdivia pointed out, the Truckee side was not flat. It just wasn’t quite itself.
There were chances created on both sides, including a long-range free kick by Truckee sweeper Nicole Panziera that hammered off the crossbar, as well as an 18-yard shot by Incline’s Monica Ceragiolo that ricocheted off the woodwork.
Play was back and forth, but Truckee’s attack was frustrated and largely shut down early in the game by Incline’s defensive strategy.
The Highlanders came out with a flat back four and heavily leaned on a well-executed offside trap, which frustrated through-ball runs by Wolverine front runners Sam Deen and Sara Grossman.
The first half was a 40-minute battle. Tackles were laid down and cards were given out.
Truckee goalkeeper Michelle Plapp was forced to make saves, including a lovely tip over the bar on a long, high shot near the close of the first half.
The halftime whistle blew with no points on the board.
Sometime during the latter part of the first half, or at halftime, Incline switched up its defense to playing with a sweeper and moving the ball around a little more.
It was a wise decision against attackers with speed and knowledge such as Deen, Grossman and substitute Nicole Oxandaboure.
With Truckee’s attack sitting back afraid to run through due to the trap, the switch gave Incline a little more depth and lessened the chance of a mental mistake leading to a Truckee breakaway.
The switch in defense, however, had nothing to do with the first goal, as Kati Bell knocked a perfectly placed 18-yard shot off the inside of the left Truckee post and into the net to put Incline up by one five minutes into the second half.
Two minutes later, Deen, Truckee’s top scorer and downright attacking powerhouse, was given her second yellow card on a controversial call 40 yards out from the Truckee goal.
Deen’s tenacious, physical play found her colliding while going for a ball with a much smaller Incline player, who went flying.
A foul seemed acceptable, but the official found it necessary to card Deen, minutes later realizing it was her second yellow and thus ejecting her from the game and forcing Truckee to play with 10 players.
On the resulting free kick, Bell drove the ball high and just under Truckee’s crossbar for the second Highlander goal.
Despite nearly 35 minutes left in the match, the play virtually marked the end of the game for Truckee.
“After the second goal we got into a panic, which is unlike our team,” Valdivia said.
Around the same time the wind picked up to violent force at Bettye Wilson and any beauty that previously existed in the game disappeared.
The Wolverines battled and they pounded as much as possible at the back of the Incline squad, but with a player down and spirits waning, the fired up Incline side won most 50-50 balls and held a slight control over the flow of play through the close of the match.
The tears shed on the Wolverine sideline after the game were exemplary of the disappointment felt by a strong, talented team knocked off in the big game by a team they knew they could beat ” and did during the regular season and the Northern 3A regional finals.
It was an example of the true beauty of championship soccer ” anything can happen, and the team that comes out flying, regardless of skill, record or any other factor, winds up hoisting the trophy over its head at the end of the day.