Tigers blank Lancers in first round of regional soccer playoffs
BY JOEY CRANDALL
Nevada Appeal News Service
Girls soccer playoffs in the Northern 4A have tended toward low-scoring, defensive affairs over the past several years.
The big question was how Douglas High School’s potent offense would adjust to the heightened defensive climate.
The Lady Tigers went a long way toward answering that question Saturday evening with a 5-0 romp over McQueen at Damonte Ranch High School.
“I’m really happy that we were still able to be ourselves out there,” Douglas coach Lorraine Fitzhugh said. “I’m thrilled with the offensive output.”
Douglas took control of the game early as freshman Tia Lyons chipped the ball up to senior Ally Freitas in the second minute.
Freitas carried down the left sideline, delayed momentarily at the corner and sent a cross in front of the net where freshman Katie Dry sliced at the ball, sending it on a high loop just inside the cross bar for the goal.
“We tend to have those early goals ” we’ve had a lot of goals in the first five or six minutes this season,” Fitzhugh said. “We weren’t sure how easy that would be with it being zone now. Getting one that early really helped us with our jitters.”
The Tigers stretched it to a 2-0 lead in the 19th minute when senior Dany Heidt put a sharp cross toward the net and junior C.J. Baumgartner followed it in for the goal.
Outside of that, the first half was more a story of the Tigers defense, led by Sage Lyons, Mackenzie Cauley, Cora Moody, Kelly D’Amico and Shannon Hubbard, kept McQueen from being able to mount any sort of sustained attack.
The midfield unit of Alex Laing, Baumgartner, Heidt and Dry also played a big role in controlling possession.
“They looked good,” Fitzhugh said. “We are trying to calm ourselves down and get the ball connecting to feet. The team as a whole is so energized, sometimes it is hard for them to calm down and be able to possess the ball.”
With the lead already in hand, the Tigers shifted more toward trying to delay in the second half, which had an unexpected side-effect.
“We were just trying to play possession ball in the second half,” Fitzhugh said. “Some of those drops allowed us to really spread the field and connect better. By dropping to the goalkeeper and the fullbacks, we created some good opportunities up top.”
Three minutes into the second half, Tia Lyons looped a pass over to Freitas, who scored on the play.
In the 58th minute Heidt once again sent an indirect kick to Freitas, who headed the ball in for her second goal.
Tia Lyons capped the scoring in the 71st minute, following in a wide cross for the 5-0 lead.
Freshman Brianna Randall recorded four saves and posted a shutout in her first career playoff start as she received additional defensive help from Shelby Eisele and Dry in the second half.
Douglas will next take on Elko, a surprise winner over South Tahoe earlier in the day, on Thursday at Damonte Ranch High School.