LTCC soccer teams nationally ranked |

LTCC soccer teams nationally ranked

by Bill Rozak

For the first time in Golden Valley Conference history, men's and women's soccer teams from the same school are nationally ranked at the same time.

Lake Tahoe Community College's Lady Coyotes broke into the United Soccer Coaches Junior College Division III National Poll Tuesday for the first time in the South Lake Tahoe program's history while the men jumped back in for the third time out of six polls this year.

"I'm very proud of both teams," said Lake Tahoe Athletic Director Mike Spina. "I've gotta say the women haven't gotten some of the respect until recently and now nobody can ignore how good our women's program is."

Respect is something all the Lady Coyote sophomores have running through their minds during every game after having been left out of the playoffs last year.

"It was like a shock but at the same time with all of our hard work and the games we've been winning, we definitely deserved it, especially after last year," said Coyotes second-year starter Rebecca Niblett, a native of England.

The women's team includes two Douglas High School graduates, sophomore team captain Caitlyn Bidart and freshman Sydney Woodward.

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"It's kinda of like telling other teams that we're a lot better than last year, we're able to compete and you're not gonna be able to hold us out of the playoffs," said Bidart.

The Lady Coyotes (10-2-3 overall, 6-0 GVC) have won seven straight and eight of their last nine, including a 5-0 win over Shasta this past Friday. Their No. 12 ranking was satisfying when they heard the news, momentarily, then it was back to business as usual.

"It was a perfect reaction," said Lady Coyotes head coach Jeremy Evans, who verified the first-time dual ranking with Pat Madden from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. Madden checked every poll since 2001 when rankings were recorded and archived.

"At first they smiled and thought it was cool but after 10 or 15 seconds they were back talking with each other. They have a strong team identity and culture. They're a tough team and have bigger goals like a conference title and winning in playoffs," Evans added. "To reach our goals, that ranking should be almost obligatory."

The Lady Coyotes completed a grueling preseason, playing several traditional powerhouses, and that has paid off in GVC play. They have run through their first six league opponents this season, outscoring them 43-0.

"A lot of people when we play says it's almost not fun," Bidart said. "Don't get me wrong, it's great, but it really is pretty shocking."

The Coyote men have definitely taken notice of what the women are doing. They don't want to be left behind and are trying to achieve the same success.

Both teams are in first-place in the GVC.

"The girls have been taking care of business on the field," said men's captain Sean Keith. "They're killing it. We're making it that direction ourselves. We're hitting our stride and getting some good goals and good minutes for a lot of guys. It's exciting to be with the LTCC soccer program right now."

The Coyote men (9-3-3, 4-1-1 GVC) have won three in a row and have outscored their opponents 11-2 over that stretch. They re-entered the poll at No. 16 after reaching a high of No. 8 earlier this season.

"It's pretty special to be ranked at the same time," said men's coach Nicholas Arbelaez, whose team defeated Shasta 8-0 on Friday. "I think once you're out of the rankings after a tough loss to get back in is even harder. It shows the resiliency of this group and shows that we're starting to peak at the right time."

The dual rankings may be related to the relationship that the teams have with each other. The men are sometimes the loudest supporters at the women's games and vice versa. The coaches are also close friends who share ideas and suggestions.

"What I love the most … most teams around the country men's and women's coaches exist," Arbelaez said. "Jeremy and I get along. We chat about the games and give each other suggestions. During the bus rides we're into it and I think the players feed off that."