Soccer: Girls, boys upend Incline in Reno |

Soccer: Girls, boys upend Incline in Reno

Photo by Brian D. Schultz/Sun News ServiceTruckee midfielder Melissa Kleffman challenges the ball versus Incline at Damonte Ranch High School in Reno. Wolverines sophomore Nikki Panziera looks on in the background.

In a battle of second-place teams that came into Friday’s Tahoe League scuffle with equal records (3-1-1), Truckee prevailed 2-0, but it may have come at a severe cost.

Truckee’s senior forward and top goal-scorer Jenna Lowrance was seriously injured when, unguarded, she attempted a goal early in the first half. Truckee head coach Amy Valdivia feared the worst after the game.

“She may have torn her ACL (anterior cruciate ligament),” Valdivia said. “She heard it pop; she wasn’t fouled, she wasn’t touched, it just gave out on her. It was an unlucky, freak thing.”

Lowrance had come into the game with five goals in two previous wins versus Whittell and Lowry. Losing Lowrance’s talent would be a detriment, but losing her leadership would be untimely to Truckee with the Northern 3A playoffs on the horizon.

Against Incline, Truckee got an early goal in the 9th minute from midfielder Alex O’Neil, who capitalized on a pass from Melissa Kleffman after the Incline goalie bobbled a shot-on-goal and allowed the Wolverines a second chance.

O’Neil struck again early in the second half (52nd minute) with her second goal on an assist from Whitney Hardy. Goalkeeper Mallory Sharp blocked two Highlanders shots within the final five minutes to preserve the win and improve Truckee’s Tahoe League record to 4-1-1 (7-1-1 overall) with regular season games against Sparks and first-place North Tahoe (Oct. 26, at Truckee) remaining.

A stingy Truckee defense gave the Highlanders few good looks at the goal, especially in the early stages of the game. Incline managed only one shot-on-goal in the first half and did not exploit the few chances it had.

“We just got a little sloppy, but I was pleased with our effort,” said first-year Incline head coach Jessica Catt. “They just made the most of their opportunities.”

Truckee defender Jessie Kautz disrupted the Highlanders’ offense, routinely hustling to the ball and clearing it out of the 18-yard box before Incline could organize a play.

“Jessie just covers everything in the back so well,” Valdivia said. “She’s such a smart defensive player. We played stifling defense; we were all over the place.”

In reference to Kautz, Catt said, “The Truckee sweeper does a good job of organizing her team. It was really a team effort.”

Despite the possible loss of Lowrance, Valdivia said her team is “peaking” right now and has improved its play since tying Incline 0-0 in the fourth game of the season on Sept. 24.

“We passed the ball very well and adjusted to their (stacked defense) style of play,” said Truckee’s first-year coach. “We were ready in transition, and we played good team offense and defense.”

Incline (3-2-1) drops to third place in the Tahoe League. The loss has little relevance to the playoff picture, (out of five teams, the top four will make the NIAA 3A Northern League playoff tournament) but it could cost Incline the No. 2 seed in the Tahoe League.

“We’re going to make the most of being in third place,” Catt said. “I think we’re in a good position.”

The game was played at Damonte Ranch High School in Reno because the recent snow storm in Tahoe rendered Incline’s field unplayable.

Although the Truckee boys’ soccer team beat the Incline Highlanders 6-0 on Sept. 24, they had to wait until Friday to enjoy their first “real” win over their Tahoe League rivals.

Because the Wolverines played an ineligible player in the first meeting against Incline, they were forced to forfeit the earlier win. Consequently, the extra loss has allowed Sparks to leapfrog Truckee for second place in the Tahoe League standings.

With the 5-1 victory over Incline on Oct. 22, Truckee improved its Tahoe League record to 5-3 (9-3 overall) and sits alone in third place while Incline (4-3-2 Tahoe League) rests in fourth. The top four earn bids to the NIAA 3A Northern League playoff tournament.

Scott Eberhardt, who had two goals in the game, and Luis Maldonado scored goals for Truckee in the first seven minutes.

Shortly after, Incline’s Paulino Arellano answered to cut the deficit in half, 2-1, but that’s all Incline could muster against Wolverines goalie Clayton Bena. Bena made a save just before the first half ended and added two more diving saves to his left side in the late minutes.

Chris Pearson and Manuel Raab also added goals for Truckee. Wolverines head coach Rob Curtis was satisfied with his team’s performance.

“We’re acquiring a little more cohesive team play and using the width of the field more to our advantage,” he said.

Although the score was similar, Incline came out with more confidence in the second meeting between the two teams, evidenced by the pressure the offense put on Bena.

“They scored on us when we made errors, but when we played well we showed we could play with them,” said Incline head coach Tom Canino. “A game like this is one to build from.”

Curtis pointed out a size and experience difference between the teams.

“They’re a young team,” he said. ‘They have some little guys out there. I’m proud of the little guys that can stand up to some of the big guys we have. They showed some great strides and intensity.”

Because over a foot of snow fell in Tahoe earlier in the week, the game was played on the Damonte Ranch High School football field. Surprisingly, the condition of the grass field at the second-year high school was shoddy.

“I would say that the field surface made it more difficult to pass with our usual consistency, so we used the long ball more than usual,” Curtis said. “But that’s OK. We need to have the long ball in our game.”

Truckee has now won two straight league games, including a 19-0 victory at Rite of Passage, since dropping a 1-0 contest to Sparks.

“(The loss against Sparks) was just one of those games that you couldn’t quite get things going your way,” Curtis said. “They play on a very small field, so there were a lot of stoppages of play for throw-ins. We never developed a good flow in the game. They’re one of those teams that as the game stays close, they will stay inspired.”

With the forfeit to Incline and the disappointing loss to Sparks, Truckee cannot catch first-place North Tahoe in the Tahoe League.

Both the girls’ and boys’ games against North Tahoe were canceled on Tuesday (Oct. 26) due to snow.

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