Soccer battle for Northern Nevada begins
Soccer’s popularity on the North Shore, as well as traditionally strong Truckee and North Tahoe high school teams, usually make the start of November an exciting time.
This year is no different.
Both North Tahoe and Truckee high schools are sending boys and girls teams to the Northern 3A championship this weekend in Winnemucca, where they will battle teams from their own Sierra League as well as the Sagebrush League at Lowry High School.
The single elimination tournament is set up so that six of the eight teams ” four from each league ” end their seasons at Lowry and the top two teams continue on to Las Vegas for the state championship.
Both boys and girls sides of the coin pose interesting scenarios. Truckee’s girls team has looked very strong this year, and ended the regular season with a firm grasp on first place in the Sierra League. North Tahoe’s boys team also clinched the Sierra League title with last week’s win over Incline and, at times, has looked unstoppable this season.
As every sports fan knows, anything can happen in the postseason. Which is precisely why we all tune in for those playoff games.
It is single elimination tournaments when stars are born, when miracles happen and when giants are slayed.
So let’s take a look at some of the facts surrounding this year’s playoff match-ups.
The Wolverine boys finished the season with 16 points in the Sierra League, leaving them in second-place overall. The team had five wins, two losses and a tie.
Truckee proved its dominance over third-place Incline with a 4-2 win to end the regular season.
The Wolverines open against Yerington on Thursday, the No. 3 team out of the Sagebrush League. Yerington finished its regular season with a 5-5-0 record.
With the central Nevada teams not traditionally as strong as those from the Sierra, Truckee should be able to get by the first round.
Should the Wolverines win, they will face the Sparks-Battle Mountain winner. Sparks ended the regular season with only one win, while Battle Mountain had an 8-1-1 record to lead the Sagebrush League.
If Truckee’s boys play their game and bring the same fire they showed against Incline last week and against North Tahoe on Dollar Hill early in the season, they should have little trouble making the Northern final and earning a trip to Las Vegas.
The Wolverines will get into trouble if they come out flat. The team is good, but it is not good enough to get through playing with little or no emotion.
The Lakers finished on top of the Sierra League, with a 6-1-1 record and 19 points.
Besides ending the season with a 4-0 victory over Incline, North Tahoe also showed its potential by beating rival Truckee at Truckee 4-0 a week before.
North Tahoe starts out the post season with No. 3 Lowry, who ended the regular season with a 7-3-2 record. Lowry should pose little problem for the Lakers.
However, hosting the tournament gives them an advantage and if the Lakers don’t move the ball around, they can be as mediocre as any team.
Should North Tahoe win, it will face the winner of the Spring Creek-Incline battle.
Both teams are beatable for the Lakers, who should have little trouble making it to Las Vegas. When the Lakers play their game, moving the ball around and generally looking like they just love the game of soccer, few high school teams can beat them.
However, when North Tahoe resorts to desperation, over ambitious balls and chaotic play, they are nothing special at all. The Lakers must control their emotions as well as control the flow of play and the ball. For North Tahoe, fun and free flowing passing is the key to a state title.
The Wolverines finished the regular season in firm grasp of first-place with a 7-1-0 record and 21 points. The only loss came against Incline in the last game of the season, a defeat that will surely stick with Truckee into this weekend’s tournament.
Truckee faces Fernley, the number four team out of the Sagebrush league with a 5-7-0 record.
The Wolverines should have little trouble with Fernley, especially if they bring some fire to the game after the stinging loss to Incline. Should Truckee win, it will face the winner of the Dayton – North Tahoe game.
Truckee has proven this season that it can beat just about anyone if it plays up to its potential. Having said that, playing North Tahoe in an elimination round of playoffs is always a dangerous place to be. Truckee vs. North Tahoe in a game to go to state will be something to watch.
Truckee’s girls have to come out with passion and move the ball around like they’ve shown they can. If they do that they may very well take the state title. If they come out flat and without emotion they can be beat by anyone.
The Lady Lakers enter the post season on the back of a 4-3-0 regular season record. As the three-time defending state champions, North Tahoe is not doing so well. The Lakers lost their last game at Incline 1-0.
North Tahoe starts off against Dayton, the No. 2 team in the Sagebrush League that sits on a 9-2-1 regular season record. While North Tahoe shouldn’t have any trouble with Dayton, this year’s squad has had a bit of a roller coaster season, making them simultaneously capable of beating anyone and losing to anyone.
Should North Tahoe win its first-round match, it will most likely face Truckee in the semifinals. As one of the best rivalries in the state, North Tahoe and Truckee playing for a spot to go to Vegas is a game to anticipate. Truckee has beaten the Lakers in both games this season. North Tahoe’s talented players have arguably not gelled to put together a top flight game against a top flight team this season. If it does it could find itself in the finals for a fourth year. However, if Truckee plays its game, it is a state champion caliber team as well.
This tournament touts some entertaining players, especially from North Tahoe and Truckee. From the lakeside, keep an eye out for Paco Delgado running the center of the park. Delgado’s speed and ball skills make him a danger to opposing defenses. In addition, he is one of the only seniors on the team, making this his last chance. Also look for Eric Holman in the middle moving the ball around. Junior Gerry Bolanos sat the beginning of the season due to academics, but returned as a goal scoring machine, including all four goals against rival Truckee, proving he is capable of clutch performances in big games.
Cassidy Iverson has been the Lakers’ offensive powerhouse all season, her left foot should be feared by goalkeepers. Hannah Ewing has been North Tahoe’s anchor at sweeper, but can make things happen all over the field. Also a sparkplug for the Lakers is Jenna Burnside, whose fast-paced play and skill around the goal should be utilized.
From the Truckee side, Al Virrey is one of the team’s more potent offensive players. His speed and ball handling make him hard to deal with. Sophomore Max Brixey has also proven his ability around the goal and his tenacious style is an asset. Emmanuel Sarabia is Truckee’s anchor and major distributor. His ability to run the defense and move the ball around will be key. And Sophomore Sal Tejeda is capable of scoring at any time.
Katie Dill and Sara Grossman are perhaps Truckee’s most reliable scoring threats. They create chances in just about every game and are always present in an opponent’s goal mouth. Bernie Nelson is a powerhouse on the flank, consistently putting in quality balls and taking possession back from opposing players. If she’s healthy, Nicole Oxandaboure is an offensive machine, capable of scoring goals in a matter of seconds. Look for Samantha Deen to run the midfield and keep the ball moving for Truckee. In fact, if this team is on there are really no holes at all.
Alex Close is a sportswriter with the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at email@example.com.