North Tahoe soccer | Boys, girls headed to playoffs despite losses |

North Tahoe soccer | Boys, girls headed to playoffs despite losses

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun
Sylas Wright/Sierra SunAshton Williams takes a shot as he's grabbed by Incline's Brian Cuadros in the first half of Thursday's game. Williams was the one called for the foul on this play, which would have resulted in a penalty kick had the call gone the other way. Incline went on to win, 1-0.

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. and#8211; The last thing the Laker boys wanted to hear was the Highlanders’ and#8220;Oleand#8221; chant.

With North Tahoe’s playoff hopes on the line, rival Incline eked out a 1-0 Sierra League win in the final game of the regular season Thursday at Highlander Stadium. As soon as it ended, ecstatic Incline players grouped up and sang their victory cheer, and#8220;Ole, ole, ole, ole!and#8221; as the Lakers walked off the field.

and#8220;It’s the only significant win we’ve had this year, so it felt pretty good,and#8221; said Incline coach Tom Canino, whose defending state champion Highlanders finished the year 3-8-1.

North Tahoe’s girls suffered a similar fate, losing 3-0 before the boys in a game they needed to win to guarantee a playoff berth.

Luckily for the Lakers, however, each of the respective teams they were battling for the fourth and final playoff seed also lost on Thursday, advancing both North Tahoe teams to the Northern 3A Regional Tournament next week.

The Laker boys finished the year 4-6-2, one point in front of Whittell (4-7-1), which lost 3-1 to Sparks on Thursday. North Tahoe will face top-seeded Elko (15-0-1) of the Humboldt League in the opening round of the postseason Wednesday in Elko.

The North Tahoe girls finished 3-6-3, which was one point ahead of Sparks (2-7-3). The Lakers can thank Whittell, which defeated Sparks 1-0 on Thursday to eliminate the Railroaders from playoff contention. North Tahoe advances to the postseason as the Sierra League’s No. 4 seed and will play at top-seeded Fallon of the Humboldt League on Wednesday.

The Lakers were not in a celebrating mood after Thursday’s losses.

The girls started things off, playing well early before falling behind 1-0 in the 16th minute on a goal by Elise Nelson assisted by Emily Hanna.

Incline, the North’s No. 3 seed, struck again with a goal by Hanna Johnson in the 66th minute, and Hanna rounded out the scoring with a goal two minutes later in which she used sheer determination to get through a defender and into open space from close range.

and#8220;We came out ready to play,and#8221; said North Tahoe coach Jon Rockwood. and#8220;The first five minutes were incredible. We came out sharp and knew the game was important, knew we were in a fight for fourth place with Sparks. We played to win the game.and#8221;

Incline coach John Paganelli, whose team plays at No. 2 Humboldt seed Elko to start the postseason, said he was pleased with the way his team played in the second half, once they calmed down from the excitement of their senior farewell game.

and#8220;We played very poorly in the first half,and#8221; Paganelli said. and#8220;We had them pinned and kept trying to force the ball and#8230; I was happy with the second half. Once they settled down and started passing, they did terrific.and#8221;

The boys’ game was a defensive struggle, as the Lakers failed to find the back of the net despite several golden scoring opportunities.

and#8220;Close chances don’t mean anything,and#8221; said North Tahoe coach Beto Alcaraz. and#8220;You have to put the ball in the goal.and#8221;

After a scoreless first half, Incline broke through in the 52nd minute with a goal amid a flurry of action inside the box that was credited to Jesus Hernandez.

and#8220;We just lost, that’s the bottom line. I think we played well at times. I just don’t know if we wanted it more than they did,and#8221; Alcaraz said.