Truckee soccer: Girls edged by Faith Lutheran in state semifinal
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — A rebuilding season never was part of the plan for the Truckee girls soccer team.
Despite losing 10 seniors from last year’s regional champion squad, the youthful Wolverines won the league title and played into the Division I-A state tournament before falling to Faith Lutheran, 2-1, in the semifinal round Friday in South Lake Tahoe.
“From the start of the season our goal was to win (state),” said first-year coach Kyle Kelly, whose roster included three freshmen and five sophomores — all of whom contributed to Truckee’s run. “Our sophomores and freshmen filled in nicely; we’re definitely excited about next year.”
After an 0-5 start to the season, the Wolverines won their next 10 straight en route to the league title and a 16-8-1 record overall. Truckee finished runner-up to South Tahoe in the regional tournament to earn a No. 2 state seed.
Top Southern seed Faith Lutheran, which posted a final record of 20-6-2, went on to claim its first state championship with a 1-0 victory over South Tahoe on Saturday, denying the host Vikings of a three-peat.
Friday’s state semifinal between the Wolverines and Crusaders could have gone either way.
Truckee rallied back from a 1-0 first-half deficit with the tying goal midway through the second half. But with eight and a half minutes left in regulation, Faith Lutheran senior Kristi Chinn hit a shot from 30 yards that sailed over the outstretched reach of sophomore goalie Izzy Abarno and just under the crossbar for the winning score.
The game remained tightly contested throughout, with both teams narrowly misfiring on a number of shot attempts and both goalies smothering shots on goal.
Faith Lutheran struck first in the 24th minute. In similar fashion to the go-ahead goal, junior Megan Donnelly took a straight-away shot from near the top of the box that snuck just over Abarno’s reach. The Crusaders carried the 1-0 lead into the half.
The Wolverines came out with a strong effort in the second half and threatened on multiple occasions after beating the Crusaders’ offside trap. None of the promising runs found net, however.
“They play with that high line, which is something we can have success against,” Kelly said. “We had lots of one-on-ones with that goalie but just couldn’t finish. I think we were just not quite patient enough.”
The Wolverines finally broke through with the tying goal in the 59th minute when sophomore Olivia Vigano headed in a well-placed corner kick by Chloe Murphy.
By that time Truckee was competing with only 10 players to Faith Lutheran’s 11. In fact, the Wolverines played most of the second half — and played well — with only 10.
One of Truckee’s shot attempts early in the second frame hit off the bottom of the crossbar and bounced straight down. A couple of Truckee players contended that the ball landed inside the goal line, including Marley Simpson, who, after continuing her argument, was dealt two quick yellow cards and ejected.
“You gotta learn when to hold back, but that’s her personality. That’s what makes her Marley,” Kelly said.
The coach added that he was proud of his players’ efforts and thought the outcome could have been different had the ball bounced Truckee’s way.
“They gave up a soft goal in the first half and then decided it was their game to win. Even with a man down, I thought we were able to control the second half,” he said. “But the better team doesn’t always win.”
In a classy show of respect from a rival program, South Tahoe girls coach Mark Salmon approached Kelly after the game to compliment the Wolverines’ play and express his condolences about the tough loss. Before the game, Truckee was awarded the academic state title for achieving the highest collective GPA in the Division I-A, at 3.78.
Truckee is set to lose only three seniors to graduation — co-captains Sophie Warren, Hannah Seppi and Natalie Seelenfreund — while returning 10 juniors and the eight underclassmen.
The South also prevailed in the Division I-A boys tournament, with top-seeded Clark edging SECTA 1-0 in the state final. Clark eliminated Sparks 1-0 in the semifinal round, while SECTA defeated Elko 2-0 in the other semifinal.