Lake Tahoe Community College Coyotes get No. 3 seed, will host Solano on Nov. 18
Lake Tahoe Community College sophomore Rebecca Niblett felt like the Lady Coyotes soccer team was “hated on” last year.
Sophomore teammate Caitlyn Bidart felt like the Coyotes were held out of the playoffs last season when they deserved to be in.
The coaches and administrators felt like their league representative did not advocate for them last year and even conspired to keep them out.
But nobody could keep the Coyotes out of postseason this year.
They left no doubt.
With chips on their shoulders, the Coyotes finished undefeated in the Golden Valley Conference and allowed just one goal to win their first ever league title.
Lake Tahoe, who was ranked No. 10 nationally for the past few weeks, was rewarded for its dominant season Wednesday with the No. 3 seed in the 18-team bracket that was released by the California Community College Athletic Association.
They will host No. 14 Solano Community College Falcons at 4 p.m. Saturday in South Lake Tahoe.
“We’re definitely happy with the No. 3 seed, especially after last year,” Niblett said Wednesday before practice. “We’re a bit annoyed not being the second seed, but now we just need to focus on winning every game and getting to the final four.”
“It’s exciting times for LTCC,” said Coyotes head coach Jeremy Evans. “We’ve hosted games in the past but this is the first time the women’s team will host one. We’re excited to be seeded third and we could’ve been higher. It’s well deserved by our girls. If you look at the bracket, you’re gonna have to beat good teams to get where we want to go. And at this point, there’s a lot of talking and fumbling around about rankings, but at the end of the day we just wanna play soccer.”
Lake Tahoe (16-2-3, 12-0 GVC) has won 13 straight games and has not lost since Sept. 22 against Fresno City, the No. 1 ranked team in the playoff bracket. That 3-0 loss was at Fresno and was the Coyotes third game in six days.
Playing Solano in the first round is sort of serendipitous. The Falcons took the place of Lake Tahoe last year when the Coyotes were dumped from the bracket at the very last second.
“They were able to play instead of us, so, especially for us sophomores, there’s a bit more determination,” Niblett said.
The Falcons will head to the Tahoe Basin with the leading scorer in California, Kailyn Herrera. The sophomore has scored 44 goals this season and assisted on 14 others. As a team, the Falcons scored 91 goals in 20 games. Herrera is responsible for 64 percent of Solano’s offense.
“It’s going to be a huge challenge for us,” Evans said. “She’s a big time scorer. But at the end of the day, we just need to do what we do. We’ve been strong defensively and allowed just one goal at home all year and I thought it was a fluke goal. We play defense, you don’t get weak goals on us. We’ll see if we can hold true to that because the best goal scorer in the state is coming to town. We’re excited to play them.”
The Coyotes have spread the wealth this season when it comes to scoring. Zarelli Villa, a freshman from Truckee, is the Coyotes’ top finisher with 17 goals, which is the single season high for Tahoe. She has assisted on two others.
Sophomore Kenya Maltase, from South Lake Tahoe, is the top goal producer recording 15 goals and 10 assists. Niblett, an England native, and freshman Graciela Palencia, of Reno, each have scored 12 goals and dished 11 assists. Freshman Melanie Ara, of Las Vegas, has nine goals and nine assists. Ara and Niblett each have four game-winning goals.
Freshman Jazmine Corvalan, of Las Vegas, lead the conference in assists with 14.
Bidart, a sophomore from Minden, Nevada, and Madison Boyd, of Las Vegas, anchor the Coyotes defense, which has limited teams to a total of 12 goals this season.
Goalkeeper Claudia Janese has recorded 11 shutouts this season, but hasn’t been really tested since league play began.
The Coyotes as a team haven’t been really tested since starting their GVC slate.
“Everyone is real excited and maybe a little nervous because of the jump from league to playoffs,” Niblett said. “It will be more intense, more physical, but we’ve been working hard in training so I think that will show in the game.”
“I think that’s a slight concern that we haven’t been tested in awhile,” Evans said. “It’ll take us 20-30 minutes maybe to realize it’s more serious and intense and then get dialed in. But we’ve got Caitlyn Bidart and Madison Boyd and I think those are two of the better center defensive backs. I don’t think they’ll let the defense get loose. I think it’ll be the opposite and they’ll get the team engaged. There might be some nerves early but I don’t think it will take long to get into it. As long as we don’t give up five goals in the first five minutes, I think we’ll be fine. We weren’t tested much in league but those days are over now. I think that alone will get the girls focused.”
The GVC is requiring Lake Tahoe to charge for Saturday’s playoff game. General admission will be $12 and $8 for students, staff, kids and seniors. Pay stations will likely be set up at the entrances to parking lots on both sides of the stadium.