Vikings girls’ soccer enjoying dominating season
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Fitness, continuity and love are three key ingredients leading the South Tahoe girls’ soccer team to a dominant season.
From 98 percent attendance rate in five-day per week, early-morning training sessions in the weight room to playing with each other year round to genuinely liking each other, the Vikings are headed toward a Northern League title and maybe more.
“We’re all like sisters, we’re really close and open and we all tell each other everything,” said Vikings senior co-captain Quinn Simpson. “We understand what each other is going through in their lives and it makes us more of a team on and off the field.”
The team went through off-season workouts with the school’s strength and conditioning coach Everett Goldberg and achieved the highest attendance of any sports program at South Tahoe.
Five days per week for two months straight in the early morning hours, the girls lifted weights and ran their butts off. It takes a lot of motivation to get out of a nice toasty bed and go to non-mandatory workouts.
“Soccer is the first sport for most of these girls and they all want to play to the best of their ability,” said sophomore Giovana De Loia, who leads the team and league in goals (23), assists (16) and overall points (62). “And being trained by Goldberg, just seeing my personal records go up, being able to fend off other players and have more stamina, he makes it fun. The girls like being around him.”
Most of the girls on the team play club soccer for the same team and play games year round. They have developed chemistry after years of playing together and enter high school already knowing the process and not having to learn it.
“Every girl on the varsity team plays club soccer year round, the fitness and our continuity, the girls get along well, are the keys to our success,” said Vikings head coach Mark Salmon. “We run the same system from club to high school to Jeremy Evans at Lake Tahoe Community College.”
The Vikings are playing with just “kids” on their front line, with two sophomores and a freshman leading the way scoring the ball, De Loia, Kelsey Hogan and Anjelina Maltase, respectively.
They have combined to score 57 of the teams 97 goals and have assisted on 36 others. If the Vikings score, it’s likely one of the three was in on it.
“Grades don’t really matter on this team and all of the younger kids are so good,” Simpson said. “Kelsey and Gio got even better this year and we didn’t think that was possible. And Lina (Maltase) is getting better everyday and she’s so physical.”
De Loia acknowledges there is an ongoing goal-scoring competition on the team between her and her good friend Hogan, but downplays that as just an added bonus due to the team’s success.
“We’re all on the same team fighting for the same thing and it helps us when we play a team like Churchill where we win 8-0,” De Loia said. “It gives us extra motivation to do better. We’re all having a good seasons, but I don’t think about that (competition) too much.”
The Vikings are 18-1 overall and 15-0 in league play. They have won 16 straight matches and not one conference team has come within one goal in any of those games. Incline coming within two goals and North Valleys came within three, but the Vikings have steamrolled the rest of the competition, including normally dominant Truckee, last year’s state champion who beat South Tahoe four times.
The Vikings have scored 78 goals in league while allowing just six.
They have all but wrapped up a league title and No. 1 seed in the northern region playoffs with three games remaining, leading Truckee (10-2) by a few games and North Tahoe (10-3) by a little more.
The Vikings played at Lowry on Friday and finish the regular season with the next best two teams, North Tahoe on Monday on the North Shore and Truckee on Thursday, Oct. 25, at home.
“We haven’t really been tested, but we finish the regular season with the next two teams behind us in the standings,” Salmon said. “As long as we get out of our remaining games healthy, I think ending the way we do will benefit all three teams.”
After suffering losses in the state final and semifinals the last two years, winning the title is forefront in their minds.
“Winning the state title is what we want,” De Loia said. “After two years of being so close, anything less …. ”
… Would seem to be unthinkable.