Sierra League girls soccer title race down to the wire
So, here is the breakdown on the Sierra League girls soccer championship race with two dates remaining and a single point separating three teams on top of the standings.
Carson holds a one-point lead with its 11-3 record (33 points) with games against second-place Bishop Manogue and Douglas (both 10-2-2 for 32 points) still to come. The Senators host Manogue on Saturday and then finish on Tuesday afternoon at Douglas.
“Saturday is going to be a huge day,” Douglas coach Werner Christen said.
Douglas (12-3-3 overall) is coming off a 2-2 tie with Manogue on Tuesday night at Keith Roman Field — thanks to McKenna Kynett’s goal in the 78th minute — to remain tied for second-place coming into its game Saturday morning against Damonte Ranch in Reno.
After taking an early lead against Manogue, the Tigers found themselves in a position of having to fight from behind at the end. In addition to their three ties this season, the Tigers are 5-1 in games decided by one goal.
On Tuesday night, the Tigers and Miners were every bit as close statistically as the final score showed. Both teams took 11 shots — seven in the first half, four in the second — goalkeepers had five saves each, freshman Jordan Smith for Douglas and junior La-Torae Nixon for Manogue.
“What a game!,” Christen said afterward. “They’re a very good team; they knock the ball around and keep their shape. I like the way they play. I like the way we play, too. We did some good things out there tonight.”
First-year Manogue coach Shelly Avansino echoed those words.
“It was a really nice game between two teams that use two very different styles of play, but are very evenly matched,” she said. “It’s always tough to play from behind, but I felt like we battled. We showed a lot of patience and composure to come back. Douglas has a very good team, too. You have to give them credit.”
Jessica Withrow gave Douglas a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute. A shot from Kynett was initially stopped, however, the ball came loose and Withrow was in position to capitalize.
The 1-0 score stood at halftime and on to the 54th minute, when Bekah Gonzalez pushed in a follow shot after a Mikaela Woodhead free kick was redirected toward the net by Mallory Benna.
The Miners went up 2-1 in the 69th minute when Marin Zaccheo blasted a left-foot shot from 25 yards to the far post. The goal was Zaccheo’s 21st of the season.
Christen was pleased with the effort from the Tigers’ defensive unit.
“We’re solid in the back,” he said. “We have six people who play back there and they’re all solid.”
Caitlyn Bidart, one of three seniors on the roster, was one of the leaders for that back line, Christen added. The Tigers received further support from a cast that included Baylee Robinson, whose takeaway with four minutes left to play disrupted a run by the Miners. And midway through the second half Zaccheo appeared to have an open look at the net, however, fullback Joelle Penny closed the door when she stepped up to break up the shot attempt.
Notes: In the event of a two-way tie between Douglas and Manogue in the final standings, the Miners hold an advantage by virtue of their 2-0 win over Douglas on Oct. 3 in Reno. Should the league end in a three-way tie for first-place the NIAA universal tie-breaker formula lists head-to-head records in league play as the top criteria (Douglas is currently 1-1-1, Manogue 1-1-1 and Carson 1-1). … Avansino, a star at Carson High in the late 1990s, is the daughter of retired Douglas County district court judge Dave Gamble. … The Tigers visit Damonte Ranch Saturday, with the JV game scheduled for 1 p.m. and the varsity game at 3 p.m.