North Tahoe soccer | Girls fall to Elko in regional tournament

Martin Harris
Elko Daily Free Press
Martin Harris / Elko DailyNorth Tahoe goalie Kami Abi-Nader makes a save during the Lakers' 4-0 loss at Elko on Wednesday.

ELKO, Nev. and#8212; The playoffs are under way, and the Elko girls’ soccer team is still putting together almost perfect performances.

The Lady Indians took the first of five steps in their quest to win a state championship with a 4-0 victory against North Tahoe in the first round of the Northern 3A Regional Tournament on Wednesday in Elko.

The offense scored three first-half goals to take control of the game, while the Tribe’s defense held North Tahoe to just two shots on goal.

and#8220;They came out intense and ready to play,and#8221; Elko coach Michelle Nicholls said of her squad. and#8220;They were passing the ball really well today.and#8221;

The Lady Indians maintained possession of the ball for about 90 percent of the game, but the scrappy North Tahoe defenders were able to keep the game from getting out of control.

The Laker keepers Angela Wood, who manned the posts in the first half, and Kami Abi-Nader, who took over after halftime, each came up with several crucial saves to hold the Tribe under its season average of 6.8 goals per game.

and#8220;I think Elko deserved to win,and#8221; North Tahoe coach Jon Rockwood said. and#8220;They played much better in the first half than we did, but I don’t think Elko is an unbeatable team. We came in here prepared to win, but Elko played a strong defensive game and a physical defensive game.and#8221;

The Indians scored their first goal 12 minutes into the contest. Michele Ygoa took a shot from the right side, which ricocheted off the post. Natalie Wright corralled the miss and put the ball in the back of the net for her 38th goal of the season.

In the final five minutes of the first half, the Tribe stretched out its lead to 3-0 on two quick scores by Adriana Shurtz. The first came on a corner kick by Ygoa that sailed right in front of the goal where Shurtz was able to leap and get a foot on the ball.

A minute later, Sophie Blair fed a pass past a couple of defenders and right to Shurtz in front of the goal. Shurtz slipped the ball past Wood for the third score of the game.

and#8220;I think we were unlucky on some of those goals they scored in the first half,and#8221; Rockwood said. and#8220;I was disappointed in our first touch and hustle in the first half. In the second half, we turned it up a little bit, but you can’t win a game when you only take two or three shots on goal.and#8221;

After the break, North Tahoe was able to shore up its defense and hold the Elko attack in check for all but the last couple of minutes. Just a minute or two before the final whistle, Morgan Canepa capped off the scoring thanks to a pass from Wright.

and#8220;We weren’t taking shots, and we held the ball a little too long,and#8221; Nicholls said. and#8220;I think we were looking for that perfect shot.and#8221;

While the Tribe’s defense was not tested often Wednesday, it stood up to the challenge to record its 12th straight shutout and 20th of the season. Nicholls said the challenges only get tougher from here as the Indians prepare for either Incline or Spring Creek on Friday.

and#8220;I think the defense will have to work harder,and#8221; the veteran coach said. and#8220;I think the rest of the 3A will really challenge them.and#8221;

Fallon will host the next two rounds of the regional tournament this weekend. Elko needs to just win one of the two games to clinch a spot at state.

In the other regional games Wednesday, Truckee blanked Fallon 2-0 and South Tahoe routed Fernley 11-0.

North Tahoe finished 5-9-3 overall on the season.

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