By Vern Hee
The third time is a charm for the Lady Trojans, as they rolled to a 3-0 win against Faith Lutheran Crusaders last Saturday for the Division 1-A Nevada State Championship title.
It is the team’s second state title in a row.
The Trojans finished their unbeaten regular season with a 2-1 loss to the Crusaders at home and then played Faith for the regional title and lost there 2-0 on Nov. 3.
This set the stage for a dramatic comeback.
Both teams went on to state, Faith as the number one seed and the Trojans as the number two.
Record breaking scorer Sydney Sladek, along with her teammates, were determined to win state. They came back to Henderson and met the South Tahoe Vikings on Friday afternoon first to see who would play in the championship game against the winner of the Faith Lutheran–Elko game.
The Vikings did not have a chance against the pumped up Trojans. They went down 8-3. Sladek had three goals in that game along with two by Kristen Young and Jenny McCaw.
While the Trojans were destroying northern first seed South Tahoe, Faith was having a difficult time with Elko. The southern first seed Crusaders barely got out of that match alive after a double overtime, 1-0 victory.
Faith and Pahrump met for the fourth time during the season the following day — the Trojans beat them earlier in the regular season.
The Trojans had a point to make and made it within 17 minutes with a goal by Sladek. The Trojans defense was charged for the game and did not let anything even come close to matching that first goal the entire first half.
Most of the ball possession was by the Trojans in the first half giving the girls ample opportunities to score. With five minutes left in the half, Sladek passed to Courtney Lindsey, who popped the ball in for the second goal to make it a 2-0 game at halftime.
Sladek put the game on ice late in the second half with her final goal of the season to make it 3-0.
For the Trojans, the drama that led up to the championship game made the victory all the sweeter. After the game, Pam Larmouth, Trojans head coach, looked visibly relieved.
“Last year was wonderful and this year was fun because we are home and we are playing a Vegas team. There is no more talk about we did not play Vegas teams. So that was really sweet. There is a grudge match here. There is no hiding it. Faith plays better against us than they play against any other team. We watched them last night against Elko and that was not the team we played. They play us better. They keep us on our toes. This is the first time they’ve ever been this far in state so they really wanted it and we really did not want them to have it,” the coach said.
Joe Sladek, assistant coach, was simple and to the point after the win, “I feel fantastic.”
The majority of the Trojans had tears of joy in their eyes after the game. After shaking the Crusaders’ hands, the team gathered in the center of the field to pose with their newest NIAA trophy and to celebrate.
Sydney scored 78 goals for the year and is ranked seventh in the country for scoring. She was overjoyed.
“I can not even say how I feel right now — just pure excitement. I knew my father could make the adjustment. Everything just came together,” said Sydney.
Haley Sladek, a senior midfielder for the team, echoed her sister’s sentiments.
“I feel amazing. I thought this morning that this is my last game ever, that’s all I could think of,” she said.
Senior Kaitlin Klem, a Trojans defender, was very emotional, too.
“We worked hard for this game and we came out and we were ready to play. One of our goals was not to let them score. We did not let them score all last season and we wanted to take that back,” she said.
Lexi Smith, another defender for the team, probably cried the most after the game.
“It is awesome and to do it after two losses to Faith really shows Faith that we can take them much like we did before and we were kind of in a rough patch and we needed to rebuild ourselves. We obviously showed we wanted it and we can do it. It is an amazing feeling. It’s surreal,” she said.