North Tahoe boys’ soccer tops Truckee for first place in standings
The lower field at North Tahoe High was packed with fans on Wednesday, Sept. 27, in anticipation for the battle for first place in the Class 3A Northern League boys’ soccer standings between the North Tahoe Lakers and the Truckee Wolverines.
The teams came into the game as the only remaining undefeated squads in league play, but it would be a pair of missiles off the foot of North Tahoe junior Isaac Ortega, and a perfectly placed through-ball from senior Juan Pablo Herrera that made the difference on a cold evening where the Lakers took a 3-1 victory.
“This is just another game. We haven’t won anything yet,” North Tahoe Head Coach Beto Alcaraz said. “We’re just taking it one game at a time. The boys played awesome, they played great and physical. We knew it was going to be very physical.”
The game was contested on the school’s lower field, which was in rough condition, making passing difficult resulting in a more physical style of play.
Defense and steady goalie play highlighted the first half of the game with neither squad able to tally the contest’s first goal over the opening 40 minutes. The Wolverines controlled most of a tight first half, getting the better of the few opportunities afforded to the offenses.
“We realized that we needed to be more aggressive,” said Alcaraz on the second half. “We couldn’t move the ball so well because of the condition of the field, but we tried to play our game.”
The physicality of the game ramped up even more in the second half with players battling over position and going hard for loose balls.
“It was just who wanted it more,” Herrera said. “We saw that the field wasn’t in the best condition to pass, so it was definitely a physical game. At halftime, we were just talking, ‘This comes down to who wants it more.’ And we were the team that wanted it more.”
Just before the midpoint of the second half, Herrera sent a terrific pass between two Truckee defenders as junior Andres Cerda darted into open field for a breakaway goal.
“Their midfielders were doing a pretty good job of marking me,” Herrera said. “I managed to slip by one of them, and managed to send that through ball through both of the defenders.”
Shortly after, Ortega took a free kick from about 30 yards out and went top shelf with a rocket just above the outstretched hands of the Truckee keeper.
After a pair of quick goals by the Lakers, the Wolverines mounted an attack downfield, finding a quick response to the Lakers goals as senior Joel Garcia buried a free kick.
After the flurry of goals, the game would remain scoreless until the final minutes, when Ortega struck again, launching a ball from deep on the left side of the field that slipped under the crossbar for a goal to seal the North Tahoe victory.
With the win, the Lakers (8-2, 7-0 Northern League) now sit alone atop the league standings, and are riding an eight-game winning streak.
“We knew it’s a big game, but we know it’s also early in the season,” Herrera said. “We still have to go to them, we still have to finish the second half of the season, but this is definitely a mental boost. This is our rival game, we have fans out here, and everyone’s excited to come out and watch.”
The loss snaps Truckee’s (8-3, 5-1 Northern League) seven-game winning streak. The Wolverines now join Sparks as the only one-loss teams in the league.
“We played well when we stuck to our game plan. Unfortunately, we broke down two or three times and those were the difference makers,” said Truckee Head Coach Casey Eberhardt. “It was a hard-fought game. It was a good game, and unfortunately they got the win tonight.”
Truckee will look to rebound on Friday, Sept. 29, when the team hosts Lowry (6-3-1, 2-3-1 Northern League). The game is set for a 5 p.m. start.
North Tahoe will next travel to South Tahoe (4-4-3, 3-2-2 Northern League) on Saturday, Sept. 30 for a noon contest.
The Truckee and North Tahoe girls also played at North Tahoe on Wednesday, Sept. 27, in a battle for first place in the Class 3A Northern League standings.
The game would be even after the first half of play with North Tahoe sophomore Maile Markham tallying a goal for the Lakers to make it 1-1 at halftime.
Truckee junior Ava Seelenfreund again lit up the back of the net with four goals in the game. Junior Isa Gonzalez scored the Wolverines’ other goal. Junior Amber Simonpietri added a pair of assists in the game.
Defensively, Truckee Head Coach Kyle Kelly highlighted the effort of senior Danielle Dolan, who had a “solid game playing outside right back, as she was quick to shutdown most of the attacks on our right.”
The Wolverines (7-4-1, 6-0-1 Northern League) will travel to Lowry (1-4-1, 1-4-1 Northern League) on Friday, Sept. 29.
North Tahoe (5-1-1, 5-1-1 Northern League) will travel to South Tahoe (5-4-1, 4-1-1) for a key game on Saturday, Sept. 30, at 10 a.m.