Soccer vs. Incline: Girls tie, Truckee boys win 6-0
Sierra Sun sports editor
As Jenna Lowrance cut the tape from her swollen ankle, her face flush from 90 minutes of soccer, she wore the pained look of a competitor who had just played to a scoreless tie.
The Truckee varsity captain grimaced as she looked at her ankle, still black and blue from a deep sprain suffered in a 1-0 loss at North Tahoe on Sept. 16.
She also suffered from the emotional pain athletes feel when their team emerges winless in a game they dominated in every facet except on the scoreboard. That was the case for the Wolverines on Sept. 24 against the visiting Incline Highlanders at River View Park, with the game ending 0-0.
“I felt like we were the better team,” said Truckee head coach Amy Valdivia. “I felt like we controlled the tempo of the game. We controlled the possession of the game, but we just didn’t finish.”
Truckee outshot Incline decisively, but couldn’t get the ball in the net. Lowrance had the right to be upset, as she was one player who had ample opportunities to score but came away with nothing.
Early in the second half, Lowrance lofted a kick that hit the crossbar and bounced high in the air, allowing Incline to clear it. Late in the game, Lowrance had a clear shot on goal from inside the 18-yard box, but Incline goalkeeper Annemarie Jones was able to stop it with a short leap straight up off the ground.
“I wish I could have placed it a little better,” a dejected Lowrance said.
Off Lowrance’s foot, Jones said she could tell it would be a ball she could save.
“I was thinking I have to stay on my lines because I’m a shorter keeper than the rest,” she said. “But I knew it wasn’t going into the goal because it was just the right height.”
Just the right height if you’re a Highlanders player, that is, and that was the basic story for the Truckee offense. Jones was tested many times in the match, but Truckee didn’t challenge the sophomore goalie enough with skilled shots.
“I don’t think we really tested their goalie enough,” Lowrance said. “We got a lot of shots, and she played decently, but we didn’t really make her make any outstanding saves.”
Valdivia viewed the game in a similar light, but took nothing away from Jones’ ability.
“I felt that a lot of our shots were at her,” said Truckee’s first-year coach. “I felt that we made her look better than she was. She may be a great goalie, but I think we made it easier on her than it needed to be.”
Jones became the varsity starting goalie midway through her freshman year, and Highlanders head coach Jessica Catt praised the sophomore goalie’s role in keeping Incline undefeated (2-0-1) in the Northern 3A Tahoe League.
“She kept us in this game, and she made solid decisions,” Catt said. “When she needed to make a play, she did.”
True to her teammates, Jones credited her supporting cast for not allowing Truckee quality shots.
“My defense and my offense really come back out and support and hold off all the shots,” she said. “Compared to last year, those shots just aren’t as high quality because my girls are getting in front of them and deflecting them well enough.”
Catt said she was content with the tie, but she thought fatigue might have gotten the best of the Highlanders.
“I’m not satisfied with how we did today,” said the first-year head coach. “We managed to come out with the tie, but we really struggled physically to maintain a good pace today. I think we got a little tired, and then we got sloppy because of that.”
In contrast, Valdivia said she was pleased with the way her team played, but she’s still waiting for that one goal against a quality team that will give Truckee the belief that it can be an offensive threat.
“It’s a matter of finishing for us,” she said. “It’s going to click. As soon as we get one (goal), we’re going to be able to finish from there on out. It has to be on against a strong team like this.”
The Wolverines beat a weaker Whittell team on Sept. 21, 8-0, but most of the scoring came on breakaway goals against a slower, less talented team. On Sept. 25, Truckee defeated Lowry, 3-1, to improve its Tahoe League record to 2-1-1.
Against stronger league opponents North Tahoe and Incline, the Wolverines have yet to score a goal. They are 3-1-1 overall.
The “run and gun” Truckee boys varsity soccer team shut out visiting Incline 6-0 on Sept. 24 at River View Park in Truckee.
That’s how Truckee head coach Rob Curtis described the tendencies of most of his players, but he insisted an all-out style of play is not such a good strategy.
“We have to slow things down and throw our efforts into areas where we have an advantage, instead of running headlong into things,” he said.
What could give his team more discipline are the additions of some key players who Curtis did not have on his roster in the beginning of the season. Luis Maldonado has returned from academic ineligibility, and Curtis views Maldonado as the natural leader type.
Newcomer Manuel Rabb, a foreign exchange student from Germany, has demonstrated some sensational, yet controlled, ball-handling skills that transcend the high school level.
“His technical skill is really a great tool for us to learn from,” Curtis said. “His head’s up, and he sees what he has to do. We have a lot of guys, some who can pull things off, and some who see, but few who combine the two.”
With the score 4-0, Rabb displayed some fancy footwork in the 18-yard box, crossing over from his left foot to his right, juking a defender and putting it past the keeper for the goal. Rabb’s soccer instincts make Curtis think of him as a field general.
“His presence out there will help slow things down and organize it a little better because we have a bunch of guys who like to run full speed and very few, if any, governors out there,” Curtis said.
For the first time this season, Curtis feels like he is playing with his complete roster. Chris Pearson also returned from academic ineligibility against Incline, scoring the final Truckee goal, blasting a line drive shot off his left foot.
An expanded roster with a lot of talent is great, but Curtis is still trying to piece together his starting lineup.
“It’s nice to have everybody back, but it’d be really nice if I had any idea of where they all belonged,” he said. “I have no clue. I’m happy that I have a few extra guys, and I’m not quite sure where to put everybody, but we have the heart of the season (eight more league games) to work through.”
Five different Wolverines players scored against Incline. Scott Eberhardt scored his team-leading fifth league goal. Eberhardt had two quick goals in the first half, the second on a penalty kick.
Eberhardt put a scare into his teammates when he limped off the field late in the game after colliding with a diving Incline goalie as the two ran for the free ball.
“It’s not that bad,” said Eberhardt, after his team had improved its Northern 3A Tahoe League record to 2-1. “It’s just a bruise in my shin. It should be better by tomorrow. It was a 50/50 ball, and he just slid in and got right over my shin guard.”
Eberhardt said Truckee used the lopsided contest to experiment on offense.
“We’re trying out different formations and testing our team out to see where we can go for state and zones,” said Eberhardt, who also scored two first-half goals in a 7-0 Truckee win over Whittell on Sept. 21. Ruben Martinez also chipped in with two goals in that game.
On the other sideline, Incline head coach Tom Canino took some positives away from a loss that drops his team’s Tahoe League record to 0-2-1.
“We connected a little bit here and there when we were concentrating – when we were moving,” he said. “We defended well at times too, but we’d make a mistake, and they’d capitalize.
“By the end of the game, you make a few mistakes and give up a few goals, and you get down. We’re going to try to link some plays and take what we did today to the next level – cut out the mistakes and see if we can stay in the games a little bit longer.”
Incline lost 6-0 to North Tahoe and tied Sparks earlier this season, a far cry from the 2003 team that went to the 3A state championship tournament.
“It’s an ebb and flow,” he said. “Some years you’re good, and some years you have to redevelop. We lost players to graduation, too.”