RENO -- When the final whistle blew Tuesday night following Douglas' 2-0 win over Reno at Foster Field, the Tigers were the Sierra League champions and didn't even know it.
A large cheer rang from the visitor's side of the field but that was only for securing the No. 2 seed in the Northern 4A playoffs. Then coach Fred Schmidt found out Carson had tied South Tahoe 2-2 earlier in the day, which, coupled with his teams' win over the Huskies, meant they were league champions for the first time since 1999.
The Tigers then huddled together and screeched like only girls can.
"We want to thank Carson a lot," Schmidt said. "We thought they could come through for us. We're real excited because some of the girls have been to two zone championships but haven't won the league."
Douglas went into Tuesday evening's game two points behind first-place South Tahoe. It ended the game one point ahead of the Vikings, who will be a No. 2 seed in the playoffs despite not losing a league game all season. All South Tahoe (9-0-3, 30 pts) needed was a win over Carson to win its first league title in more than five years. Didn't happen.
The Senators, who were a No. 4 seed in the playoffs regardless of the outcome of yesterday's game, used goals from Cassie Bowman and Katie Kotter to tie the Vikings at Carson High. Carson doesn't look like the same team it was at the beginning of the season. The first time the Senators played Reno and South Tahoe this season, they lost by a combined score of 7-0. Carson has now played both teams in the past week and only been outscored 3-2.
"I'm extremely proud of the way the girls played," said coach Mike Popp. "They came out hard played like they wanted to win. I think we're peaking at the right time."
Douglas, which started the season 1-2-1, appears to be playing its best soccer at the right time, as well. The Tigers have now played 11 straight games without a loss since a 2-0 loss to South Tahoe on Sept. 17.
"We're playing as good as we have all season," Schmidt said. "This game had the work effort and speed of a playoff game. Reno's a great team and they played hard. They came out in the second half and tried to play that long ball and that's a hard thing to do against us. The defense of Ali Pyne, Molly Hernandez, Rebecca Wallstrum, and Jessica Brady played solid all night. They never really made any bad mistakes. I don't think we ever felt we were in danger of getting scored on."
The Huskies (8-3-1, 25 pts) never really threatened as goalie Andrea Bryant had to make only two saves, both coming in the second half. The Tigers (12-2-1 overall, 10-1-1 league, 31 pts) were up 2-0 at halftime off two high-quality goals from Hannah Sullivan and Tracey Hawks.
In the 33rd minute, Krysten Bartsche played a nice ball to Sullivan, who touched it once and blasted a right-footed shot from 25 yards out over the head of Elizabeth Fox and into the upper right corner of the goal. Then just before halftime, Hawks collected a loose ball from Sullivan and, with a deft chip, beat Fox to far post for the 2-0 lead.
"The surface of the field was so hard and we tried to play a lot of through balls and they were going almost 20 yards too far," Schmidt said. "I thought we were a little impatient at times and playing too direct. We got into a lot of their kick ball game. When we slowed it down and possessed it a little bit, we were playing nicely. All in all, it was one of the better games we played. I think we're peaking at just the right time."
As a No. 2 seed the past two years, the Tigers won the Northern 4A in 2000 and lost to Carson in last year's final. In 1999, as a No. 1 seed, Douglas lost to South Tahoe in a penalty kick shootout in the semifinals. Terran Hadlock is the only member of this year's Douglas team who was on the '99 squad, which went 17-2-1. Hadlock, a senior, started as a freshman for a Tigers, then moved out of the state for her sophomore and junior years before returning to Douglas for her senior year.
In the first round of the playoffs, which start Saturday, Douglas will play Elko, the No. 4 seed from the High Desert League, and Carson will play the High Desert League champion, either Reed or Galena. The Raiders play McQueen in a doubleheader with the boys' team today in Sparks. If Reed wins or ties, it will play the Senators in the first round. If it loses, it will be in a tie with Galena at 10-2 and because the two teams split this season, a complicated tie breaker formula would then take place, which if it does appears to still favor Reed.
Two years ago, the Raiders beat the Senators in the semifinals and Carson did the same to Reed last year.