Douglas soccer falls to South Tahoe
South Tahoe is back in a familiar position – playing for the regional championship – after posting a hard-fought 2-0 semifinal victory against Douglas on Thursday night.
Gil Navarro broke up a scoreless struggle in the 51st minute and Paulo Caetano later added an insurance goal that lifted the Vikings (18-4-2) past Douglas (15-6-2).
This marks the second straight trip to the regional finals for South Tahoe. Not bad, considering the Vikings had 16 seniors graduate from their 2005 state 4A championship team and not bad considering that just two weeks ago, Carson vaulted to the Sierra League’s regular season title with a 2-1 win at South Tahoe.
“We’re not the No. 1 seed, but sometimes being No. 2 can be a blessing in disguise,” South Tahoe coach Chris DeLeon said. “Some people didn’t expect much from us, but the expectations from within were still there. We always have high expectations – aim high and go from there.”
Douglas came in with its own high expectations – and respect for South Tahoe’s program.
“They play like state champions,” said Mike Gransbery, the Tigers’ senior captain. “We give them a lot of respect anytime we play them because they always have an elite program. We know how much they love the game of soccer and we know they’re going to come out fired up.
“We thought this might be the year we could get them. We gave it our best shot, and I think that shows something for our program. Things just didn’t work out tonight,” added the senior forward, who finished with 29 goals this season (two shy of the state single-season record) and 60 goals for his career.
The Vikings got on the scoreboard shortly after the intermission when Anthony Demarta crossed a ball in front of the net to Navarro, who headed the ball into the net for a 1-0 lead.
South Tahoe scored again in the 61st minute when Caetano blasted a high 40-yard drive that slipped underneath the crossbar to make it 2-0.
“Give credit to Milko (Vasquez, Douglas coach). He came out with an attack-minded game plan that surprised us a little. The first half was 50-50, but our kids kept their composure and played very well in the second half,” DeLeon said.