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Douglas takes second at zone

by Chuck Smock

It was obvious that just going to the state soccer tournament wasn’t enough for either Douglas or South Tahoe on Saturday in the Northern 4A Zone championship game at Carson High School.

With state tourney berths already secured by making it to the zone final, the Tigers and the Vikings waged an epic, back-and-forth battle that couldn’t be decided on the field.

After 80 minutes of regulation, 20 minutes of overtime and 10 minutes of sudden-death overtime, the score was tied 1-1. Each team then sent five shooters and its goalkeeper onto the field for a penalty-kick shootout, which started with back-to-back misses.

South Tahoe goalkeeper Peter Chiarpotti made one save and the Vikings hit the net with their remaining shots to win the shootout 4-3 and claim the zone championship, 2-1.

The NIAA/U.S. Bank 4A State soccer championship will be played Friday and Saturday at Carson High School. Douglas will play Green Valley in the first round Friday at 11 a.m., while South Tahoe will take on Bishop Gorman at 2 p.m.

Green Valley brings a 16-1-2 record and a reputation for physical play into the state tournament. The Gators are strong defensively, but not particularly talented, preferring to clear the ball to the midfield rather than trying to build from the back.

Sophomore goalkeeper Chris Ancell has 12 shutouts, but hasn’t been forced to make a large number of difficult saves.

Junior forward Tyson Miller and sophomores C.J. Hillstead and Tyson Urashima are the Gators’ main threats to put the ball in the net.

Douglas coach Philip Sheridan admitted he didn’t know much about Green Valley, but added that the Gators are in a similar position coming into Friday’s game.

Sheridan said each team likely will use the early minutes of the state semifinal to try to evaluate its opponent.

“You have your way of coaching and teaching and what you expect from the kids in certain situations, so I don’t think it matters,” Sheridan said of the lack of a scouting report. “It would be nice to know if they have a good forward or how fast they are, because you might switch a defender.

“But they have the same thing. They don’t know what we have. You recognize early if there’s anything that’s going to cause you problems and adjust to it. We don’t typically adjust too much.”

The coach added that playing a tough game with South Tahoe in the zone final should help the Tigers get ready for the state tournament.

Junior Robby Honer played another strong game in the midfield, as did seniors Dylan Sheridan and T.J. Plummer, who missed the first 10 minutes of the game while undergoing treatments for back problems. And the defensive backline of Rex Belshaw, Zac Beres, Nicky Hernandez and Adam Sheldon did a solid job of stopping a potent Viking attack.

“We played a good game,” coach Sheridan said. “We’re not as deep as South Tahoe, but our kids hung in there the whole time. We had opportunities late in the game, just like they did. It could have gone either way.”

South Tahoe scored first when Miguel Jimenez put home a rebound after Douglas keeper Chad Love had made a good play to deflect a shot on a one-on-one charge midway through the first half.

Douglas defender Rex Belshaw was called on, and responded, when the Tigers were awarded a penalty kick with eight minutes left in the first half. Belshaw calmly booted the ball into the net for a 1-1 tie.