In the end, conditioning came out on top.
Well, more numbers at least as the Fallon girls soccer team opened its home slate with a 3-2 win over Incline on Wednesday at the Edward Arciniega Complex.
Fallon was lifted by second-half goals from Megan Maronde and Rebecca Mills to lift the Lady Wave past a depleted Incline club on sunny day devoid of smoke.
The Highlanders, though, nearly tied the match in the final seconds on a breakaway, but Fallon goalkeeper Erin Nelson bumped off the attacker, avoided the foul call and cleared the ball to preserve the win.
Incline coach Tom Canino pleaded with the referee for a penalty kick, but his complaint fell on deaf ears.
“I think the ref made the right call,” Fallon coach Kelly Spicer said. “Our goalie came out and it was one of those who gets to the ball (first). It’s one of those plays that can go either way, and depends on the refs.”
Incline, though, wore down and used its experience to chip away at Fallon’s lead in the second half. The reigning Division III state champs baffled the youthful Fallon club with precision runs and sound passing.
Numbers favored Fallon as the Highlanders suited only 12 players and constantly rotated. Canino said he has several more players on the club, but because of the smoke and the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association’s mandate of 10 practices before a player can compete, he erred on the side of caution.
“I don’t know what the deal is with the smoke and the 10-practice rule,” he added. “We didn’t challenge it, so we played short today (Wednesday).”
The smoke from several California wildfires, though, limited both teams’ preparation and conditioning in the past two weeks.
Despite those hurdles, Incline showed determination to get the nonconference win. Sophomore striker Vanessa Andrade scored twice and nearly had a hat trick when she was bumped off the ball in the final seconds.
Fallon, however, countered with speedster Maddie Alegre, who netted the first goal of the match in the first half, midfielder Monica Mills, who helped control the middle, and defender Sam Burton, who held off an aggressive Incline attack.
“We came out flat the first 10 minutes of the game, but then we played how we wanted to play,” Spicer said.
Alegre’s speed caused fits for Incline’s backline, as the senior routinely sliced through the defense on long runs. Fallon’s wingers, though, were unable to consistently find Alegre in front of the goal.
Despite the missed chances, Mills connected with Alegre to set up the first goal. Incline, though, fought back and scored on Andrade’s free kick with less than 10 minutes left in the first half.
Andrade cut the lead to 3-2 with a blast over an outstretched Nelson for her second goal of the match.
But Fallon’s two second half goals proved to be the difference as Incline ran out of time.
“We definitely got a sluggish and tired and that hurt us,” Canino said. “But, you know, it’s not like we didn’t have our opportunities to win this game.”