South Tahoe and Bishop Gorman
By Dave Price
Appeal Sports Writer
They can be called aggressive. They can be called opportunistic. And now, the Elko Indians can be called finalists in the NIAA 4A State Boys Soccer Tournament, presented by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Nathan Leyva's goal on a follow shot in the 60th minute was all the offense Elko needed to post the first state soccer tournament victory in school history, a 1-0 opening round verdict against Chaparral on Friday afternoon at Carson High School.
Elko (19-5-1) moves on to play South Tahoe today at 2 p.m. in an all-North championship game at Mackay Stadium. South Tahoe defeated Bishop Gorman 2-1 in the other opening round game to set up the first all-Northern boys soccer final since 1998 (Carson defeated Reno).
This is certainly brand new territory for the Indians, who have played in four straight 1-0 games this postseason - winning three and losing only to South Tahoe in the regional tournament finals last week.
"This is the furthest Elko has ever gotten," coach Jim Nisbit said. "We went (to state) in 1996 and got knocked out in the first round."
Pretty good considering Elko came in as the No. 2 seed from the North and knocked off a Sunrise Region championship Chaparral team (14-2-2) that hadn't lost since its season opener.
Nisbit knew the Indians would have their hands full against the talented Cowboys from Las Vegas. They opted to counter that talent with some aggressive defense.
"Chaparral has some really big kids, but we were able to body-up on them," Nisbit said. "We just wanted to disrupt them. I think they're used to having a little more space to work with; our game plan was to play them tight and not give them room to make their passes."
Chaparral got off five shots in the second half, the best attempt coming in the 66th minute when Sergio Avendano juked his way into open space on the right side and ripped a shot that Elko goalkeeper Channing Christiansen batted away diving to his right. The Cowboys got a second shot on the rebound near the far post, but the attempt flew wide to the left.
Elko's goal came in a similar situation. The difference was that the Indians got three shots and cashed in on the third try.
The stage was set by a corner kick from Leyva from the left side. Spencer Garvin's shot was stopped by Chaparral goalkeeper. Taylor Minter got a header on the rebound, a shot that was also stopped. But then the ball caromed to the right side of the net toward a charging Leyva, who stuck it in the net for the Indians.
"This is a fairly opportunistic bunch," Nisbit said. "As the ball gets closer to the net, we have a bunch of guys who are more than willing to go after it, and that's pretty much what happened on that goal. They'll do whatever it takes to get the job done. They'll jump off a cliff if they have to."
As a result, the Elko boys soccer team is now set to play in its biggest game ever.
"We're really excited," Nisbit said. "The entire community is excited. The support we've gotten has been great. The community has really rallied to support us. We had a great crowd here tonight and I expect we'll have twice this many tomorrow (for the finals)."
SOUTH TAHOE 2, GORMAN 1
The Vikings, who captured the 2003 state championship with back-to-back wins at Carson High, continued their success on the same field with a win against the Sunset Region champion Bishop Gorman Gaels.
Erick Sandoval scored in the 14th minute and Ernesto Mosquedo put in a header with 20 minutes remaining to give South Tahoe a 2-0 lead. Gorman pulled to within 2-1 when Zac Zaher converted a penalty kick with three minutes to go, but that's as close as the Gaels would get.
Keep in mind that the North has won four state boys large schools soccer championships since 1988.
"(To beat) Chaparral and Bishop Gorman, that was definitely not expected," South Tahoe coach Chris Leon said. "Not at all. But it happens."
Getting past Gorman (13-6) was a formidable accomplishment, he added.
"We knew it was going to come down to who makes the first mistake," Leon said.
Sandoval was the beneficiary of the first break when he gathered in a rebound in front of the net and cashed in to give South Tahoe a 1-0 lead that stood at halftime. Mosquedo scored the insurance goal midway through the second half off an assist from Rafael Aguirre.
n Contact Dave Price at firstname.lastname@example.org