Sun News Service
Possession doesn’t automatically equal victory in soccer. Few teams know that better than the North Tahoe girls soccer team.
The lady Lakers clinched a 1-0 win over Truckee at home on Sept. 16, despite settling in and playing defense almost the entire second half.
“The defense wanted this win,” said Lakers coach Kristen Ylanders. “You’ve got to mark up. You’ve got to body up. You’ve got to make contact out there to get position and win the ball ” and that was the difference.”
Truckee moved the ball effectively in the early stages of the match, dominating possession with one and two-touch passes for the first 15 minutes. Though they only tested the Lakers goalie with two shots, they controlled the ball.
But Truckee head coach Amy Valdivia noticed that her team’s momentum began to wear off, which might have been a sign of fatigue, she said.
“We started taking five or six touches when we should have been taking one or two, which is how we were effective in the beginning,” Valdivia said.
Recognizing the Wolverines’ early ball-handling success, Ylander switched her team from a 4-4-2 to a 3-4-3, pushing Jessie Robbins into the center forward position. The change disrupted Truckee’s ability to move the ball and allowed the Lakers to begin pressuring the Wolverines goal.
“It was too easy for them, so we slid Jess up to forward to take that away,” Ylander said. “It was both an offensive and defensive decision.”
The move paid off for the Lakers quickly when they scored 10 minutes into the game, after Morrigan Drew played the ball through the Truckee defense to Robbins, who buried it in the corner of the net. The assistant referee signaled offsides, however, canceling the Lakers 1-0 lead.
“I’m not sure if it should have been called,” the Lakers’ senior captain Michelle Parker said, adding that Robbins looked onside when the ball was played.
The Lakers’ offensive pressure continued and eventually paid off, though. With three minutes left in the half, Alec Drew beat a Wolverines defender in the corner and crossed the ball to an oncoming Robbins in the middle of the 18-yard box. Robbins shot froze the Truckee goalkeeper and put the Lakers ahead 1-0.
The Lakers sat on their lead in the second half and relied on their defense the rest of the match, dropping Jessie Robbins into the back for additional help.
“The kids really wanted (Jess) back there,” Ylander said. “I don’t know if it was fatigue or not, but they just wanted to hold the lead.”
Drew and Robbins were instrumental in shutting down the Wolverines attack, limiting Truckee to just four shots ” just one on-goal.
“Morrigan saved a couple of one-on-ones,” Ylander said. “What can you say about her? She’s awesome.”
“I thought their defense was strong,” Valdivia said. “They did a great job, and we need to work on our finishing.”
It wasn’t until the final five minutes that Truckee threatened to score. Maisha Goodpaster came through the center of the defense unchallenged and took a shot from 12 yards out with only Lakers keeper Cindy Jiminez to beat. The rookie goalie, however, came up with the stop, salvaging a win for the Lakers.
“She knows she’s fast, and she’s not afraid to go out and get balls,” Ylander said. “I was happy to see her get that save.”
Valdivia felt Truckee should have had more scoring opportunities like Goodpaster’s.
“I thought we were going to have (Goodpaster’s goal), but I thought we would have a few other ones, too,” said Truckee’s first-year head coach getting her initial taste of the rivalry. “It shouldn’t come down to just one shot.”
At 5’8″, 130 pounds, Michael Basile doesn’t seem like a prime candidate for the nickname Big Mike. But that’s exactly what his Lakers teammates chanted as they congratulated their goalkeeper after the soccer team’s 2-1 victory over their Truckee rivals.
“What a performance,” said North Tahoe head coach Bert Alcaraz. “He was our hero.”
Basile had 11 saves in the match, including one on a tying shot from six yards away with 16 minutes left and another on a shot from 30 yards out with less than a minute to play. For a freshman, he played beyond his years, Truckee coach Rob Curtis said.
“He did a great job,” Curtis said. “When given a big responsibility, part of growing up is stepping up, and he showed he could do that.”
Truckee did beat Basile early in the match, however. Despite two early saves, the Wolverines’ pressure paid off when the Lakers defense’s attempted off-side trap failed in the 8th minute. The Wolverines sent the ball into the 18-yard box where Scott Eberhardt received it with only the goalkeeper to beat. He buried the ball in the far side of the goal.
“They just came at us right from the beginning,” Alcaraz said. “We knew they would come out hard. We contained them and just outplayed them in the first half.”
The score changed the first time the Lakers tested Truckee’s defense. Paco scored off the team’s first corner kick in the match, tying the score at 1-1.
Sam Farhner gave the Lakers the lead minutes later, when he nutmegged a Truckee defender in the corner. The move left him wide open, and he sent a cross into the box which ricocheted off a Truckee player 6 yards out and trickled into the far corner of the goal.
“We got sloppy on defense,” Curtis said. “That’s what led to those goals, but Tahoe was opportunistic and it takes a quality player when given an opportunity to take advantage of it.”
Truckee’s best chance to tie the match came with 16 minutes left when Austin Lynch’s uncontested shot from 6 yards out was stopped by Michael Basile.
“That one nailed me in my chest (after) breaking through my hands,” Basile said. “I’m just glad it hit me instead of the goal.”
To pull off the win, the freshman stopped another six shots, including one by his own teammate, Fausto, who nearly lobbed the ball into his own net from 35 yards away. He would seal the game by diving to block a last attempt Truckee shot from 30 yards away.
The scariest moment the match for the Lakers, however, might have been at the end of the first half when starting right fullback Jordan Holzer went down in the box to stop a Truckee breakaway. X-rays after the game showed that he had broken his ankle.
“That’s going to be a huge loss,” Alcaraz said.
Sept. 16: Truckee 3, North Tahoe 2
Truckee goals: Samantha Deen 2, Kelly Stephens
Sept. 20: Truckee 5, McQueen 0
Truckee goals: S. Deen 2 (2 assists.), Alexis Fallow, Ann-Britt Hakansson, Clancy Delforge
Shutout: Goalie Ashley Loudenclos
Sept. 16: Truckee 2, North Tahoe 0
Truckee goals: Raul Martinez, Al Virrey
Shutout: Goalie Victor Islas