TTHS outshoots Lakers for 3A title
A junior on a team loaded with seniors, Tahoe-Truckee High School reserve soccer player Grace Kennelly figured to spend more time watching the state soccer final rather than participating in it.
But Kennelly emerged as one of Truckee’s heroes in the Wolverines’ 7-4 victory over North Tahoe High School Saturday at Douglas High School in Minden, as Kennelly stepped in as goaltender late in the first half and cooled off a Laker attack that produced four early goals by shooting high on starter Leilani Mullen.
“I didn’t think I’d be playing, except maybe a little fullback,” said Kennelly after making only her second appearance in the Wolverine goal this season. “I thought I’d spend more time on the bench than in the game.”
Kennelly’s appearance in goal was just one of a series of odd occurrences and plays in the game which gave Truckee its second consecutive state title. Consider:
— The usually stable Truckee defense gave up four goals in the first half to the Lakers after allowing only three goals in 14 league games.
“Our defense wasn’t marking and trapping the ball like it should,” said Wolverine coach Doug Roberts. “We had been playing some weak teams leading into the playoffs and our defense could get away without marking the ball tightly against those teams, but not against North Tahoe.”
“I put Grace in the goal because she’s taller than Leilani and could jump higher to stop the Lakers’ high shots,” Roberts said. “But the goals weren’t the goaltender’s fault – they had some good shots.”
— The Wolverines, trailing 4-3 late in the first half, benefited from a Laker hand ball by Crystal Winn, who punched the ball from the goal line as it was bouncing into the net. The hand ball gave Truckee a penalty kick and a man-advantage, as the infraction resulted in a red card (ejection) for Winn. Jackie Robinson then connected from the penalty spot to tie the game and Truckee was subsequently able to control the tempo of the game as North Tahoe was left with only 10 players.
“I think the ball was going in, anyway,” Roberts said. “I feel sorry for her, because I’m sure it was just an automatic reaction, which resulted in a red card. It’s a sad way to end a season.”
— Megan Martin, stepping in for temporarily injured 27-goal scorer Becca Shook, provided an unexpected spark for Truckee on offense during the second half, contributing a goal and assist.
“I knew Megan could provide some goals; she has a ton of skills,” Roberts said.
While the Wolverines would eventually receive help from their reserves in the second half, Truckee’s offensive stars, including Robinson, Shook, Quincy Young, Sarah Murray and Britne Mahoney, were matching North Tahoe’s offensive outbursts goal-for-goal in the first half. While Michelle Prado, Shannon Wojcik, Abby Osborn and Shannon Bahrke were scoring for the Lakers in the first half, Robinson, Shook and Murray tallied goals to keep the Wolverines close.
When Robinson tied the score 4-4 just before half on the penalty kick, Truckee players became confident the Wolverines could take the lead during the second half.
“We’re a second-half team,” Martin said. “I thought we’d come back in the second.”
Robinson broke the tie early in the second when she took a pass from Mahoney and drilled the ball to the left of the Laker goalie. With the Lakers down a player, it didn’t take too long for Martin and Shook to add the clinching goals.
“With them down a player, we were able to control the ball,” said Robinson, who finished with three goals in the game and 59 for the season, a Wolverine school record. “Our defense was nervous at first, but then it played well.”
Roberts said the defense finally played up to its potential in the second half.
“We got all-league performances from our all-league players in the second half,” Roberts said. “Sarah Jones had a great game an Alli Back stepped up her play in the second half.”
Roberts and the Wolverine players said the state championship had proved to be the most nerve-wracking and match of the season.
“My blood pressure was way up in the first half,” Roberts said. “We’re not used to coming from behind.”
“The first half was scary because we were too hyper and couldn’t settle down,” said Mahoney. “In the second half, though, we were able to play Truckee ball and dominate.”
“It was a great game, especially for the spectators,” Roberts said. “Everybody likes a close game.”
Truckee won the NIAA 3A girls’ soccer academic competition with a 3.58 team grade point average. Named to the all-state academic team were Wolverine players Shook, Ange Solinsky, Lindsey Back and Kirsten Mickelson.
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For decades the snap of a baseball into a leather glove has signaled a return to warmer weather and the onset of spring in Truckee.