Wolverine soccer shocker over Miners
The Tahoe-Truckee High School boys’ varsity soccer team had a “Long” day against Nevada Union High School, as Wolverine goaltender Justin Long made several difficult saves during the second half to preserve Truckee’s 4-2 non-league victory over the Miners Friday afternoon at the TTHS soccer field.
“That’s the best I’ve seen Justin play,” said Truckee defender Mark Lopez. “On several shots, it seemed like he came out of nowhere to make the save.”
“Justin had a great day,” said Wolverine coach Larry Leatherman. “His positioning in the second half allowed him to make some great saves because he was anticipating where Nevada Union’s shots were going.”
Long downplayed his individual performance in the win.
“Our defense was good and there was some luck,” said Long, referring to one Nevada Union shot which struck the crossbar. “Playing a good team like Nevada Union brings out the best in us.”
Truckee’s “best” didn’t appear as if it would be good enough against the California 5A school from Grass Valley early on, as NU scored the first two goals of the game within the first 20 minutes of the contest.
“They came out tough and passed right through our team while we tried to collect ourselves,” said Leatherman. “Both of their goals came on defensive miscues, putting us into a big hole early against a good team.”
Truckee finally got on the board in the 28th minute on a shot by Jim Leatherman off an assist from Kyle Barth. The first half ended with Truckee trailing 2-1, prompting a little “pep” talk from Leatherman to the Wolverine players.
“I told them we needed to improve our communication and support for each other on the field,” Leatherman said. “They must have listened because they came out and played hard.”
Truckee’s effort was finally rewarded in the 53rd minute, as Barth earned a penalty shot for the Wolverines following a solo effort deep in NU territory. Barth stole the ball from a Miner defender near the corner-kick flag and then dribbled into the penalty box for a shot. Before he could unleash his kick, two Miners dragged him down from behind, giving Truckee an excellent chance to tie the game.
Barth didn’t miss on the opportunity, drilling the ball into the right corner to tie the game, 2-2.
“I’ve been practicing penalty shots recently,” Barth said. “Like Coach Leatherman said to do, I just aimed for the right, back post.”
NU then swarmed the Truckee goal, looking for the potential game-winner. Long came up strong, however, stopping two Miner head shots that were earmarked for the corner of the Wolverine net.
Seven minutes after Barth’s tying goal, Truckee was able to mount a counter-attack. Jason Gifford received the ball all by himself at the left-hand side of the NU goal and calmly slipped the ball past the netminder, giving Truckee a 3-2 lead.
When a Truckee defender was given a red card with 10 minutes remaining in the game, it appeared NU would have an excellent chance to tie the game, as the Wolverines were forced to play short-handed with 10 players. But Truckee was able to ice the game when the Miners’ goaltender made a huge error on a long, bouncing ball which went under his foot as he tried to clear it. Gifford picked up the loose ball for an easy goal, giving Truckee a 4-2 lead. Moments later, the referee signaled the end of the game, giving the Wolverines their most satisfying win of the season.
“Jason had a great game, scoring the game winner,” Barth said. “And Justin did great, too, especially for not getting mad at the defense when we were allowing all of those shots in the second half.”
On Monday, Truckee recorded a 4-0 non-league win over River City in Sacramento. Taylor Greene scored twice; Barth and Wes Thelen also added goals. Long and Erik Jitloff shared time in goal to combine for the shutout.
Last Wednesday (Sept. 10), the Wolverines won their home opener over Golden Sierra. Despite a slow start, Truckee eventually won 10-0.
Truckee has two games scheduled this week. The Wolverines host Folsom tomorrow (Sept. 19) in a game starting at 5 p.m. (JV starts at 3:30). Truckee opens its league season next Tuesday in a home game against Incline beginning at 4:30 p.m.
The Tahoe-Truckee High School girls’ varsity soccer team opened its 1997 league season Saturday at White Pine. Nine different Wolverine players scored for Truckee in a lopsided game. Sarah Jones and Alli Back both tallied two goals for Truckee.
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