South Tahoe wins Northern 4A championship

RENO -- Enrique Avina scored one goal and assisted on two others as South Tahoe won the Northern 4A championship with its 3-0 win over Reed on Saturday at Foster Field.

The Vikings won the zone title for the first time since 1999 and will be North's lone representative at the NIAA/U.S. Bank 4A State Championships next week in Las Vegas.

"They're legit. They have a good chance to win state and I hope they do," said Raider coach Bart Vandamme. "It always sounds good to say you lost to the state champions. They were the better team. They are definitely as good as we were when we won state two years ago."

Reed, which won the state title in 2000, was dominated from the opening whistle. The Vikings, who outshot the Raiders 17-2, opened the scoring in the 10th minute when Victor Marsical scored off an Avina pass. Then in the 20th minute, Corey Vermillion scored off another Avina pass as South Tahoe led 2-0 at halftime. It could've been even worse, though.

"We try to get as many guys in the attack as possible," said coach Joe Winters. "We got a lot of of guys who can score. All the guys played well."

Avina effectively put the game away early the second half when he displayed a great bit of skill with two nasty jukes inside the Reed penalty box before placing a shot past goalie Vince Liccardi into the side netting. Then the game turned ugly.

The Raiders, which were making their third consecutive zone title appearance, were issued six cards in the second half, two of them red cards. South Tahoe (16-0-2) nearly paid the price for the rough play when striker Alex Torres was harshly taken down late in the game and was helped off the field. Torres wore a wrap around his right knee when the Vikings rushed the field after the game, but Winters said South Tahoe's trainer says he should be fine for the state tournament.

Torres or no Torres, the Vikings have a decent shot at becoming state champions. Reed certainly saw why yesterday.

"These guys weren't going to be stopped," said Winters, who watched almost the exact same team get upset by Sparks in the first round of last year's zone tournament. "They were focused."

South Tahoe will be the only undefeated team at the state tournament when it plays Sunset Region champion Centennial on Friday in the semifinals. The Bulldogs (15-2) beat previously unbeaten Bishop Gorman 2-1 on Saturday in the Sunset Regional championship.

In the other semifinal, Sunrise Region champion Chaparral, the defending state champs, will play Gorman (18-1), the No. 2 seed from Sunset Region. Chaparral (13-5) beat Green Valley on penalty kicks in the Sunrise regional championship.


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