The Pahrump Valley Trojans girls soccer team suffered a heartbreaking loss in the regional championship game on Saturday, losing 2-1 to league rival Sunrise Mountain.
Despite the loss, the Trojans still move on to state as the No. 2 seed. The team will play Truckee, California at 2 p.m. on Friday at Spanish Springs High School near Sparks.
Pahrump is not used to losing, having lost only three games out of 22 and so the big question is: can this team recover from the loss?
Can the girls turn things around?
Niles thinks her team can.
“I feel we just need to step it up,” she said. “This is not going to come easy. We have to work for it. We just really need to step it up communication-wise, work with each other better and make better passes,” he said. “During the last game, defensively we just kicked the ball instead of passing it off. We also need to get back faster and not give them the opportunity to shoot the ball.”
Trojans head coach Julie Carrington is confident her team can come back.
“I want to tell the girls that we have played greater teams before and have persevered, we have played harder teams and never gave up, we have played many teams and won,” she said. “We need to play as a team fighting for the glory of our school and fighting for our teammates!
“We want people to remember us. Because we are Trojans! And for me, just getting to state is a little redemption from last year but it’s not enough. I want the whole title for our team.”
The game vs. Sunrise Mountain
At the regional championship game, it was said in the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Pahrump dominated because of the wind. That was not the case.
The Trojans dominated the first half because of better passing and a more organized attack. They won time of possession and the number of shots taken.
The game was different in the second half. The Trojans scored within the first three minutes of the half. Senior Kaitlyn Carrington scored on an amazing head shot from a perfect pass from Sydney Dennis.
But then Sunrise quickly tied the game up on a junior Alexandra Trinidad goal.
“It sucks because we should have had this game,” Niles said. “We could have had five goals on them and we just didn’t finish and take advantage of the opportunities we had. We put too much pressure on our defensive line and our keeper because we were not keeping it on the offensive side in the second half.
“We just need to work on finishing it because once the first person scores, the game changes. We thought we had it after the first goal and they just took advantage of us.”
The day before the regional, Pahrump had won on a penalty kick in the Tech game. The situation was now reversed as Trinidad scored her second goal of the game on a penalty kick.
The question arose after the game that maybe the Trojans were tired after beating Southeast Career Technical Academy (Tech) 1-0. That game was won in overtime by the Trojans on a penalty kick by Sydney Dennis.
Senior midfielder Kathy Niles shot that down and said losing had nothing to do with being tired.
“It was our mindset,” Niles said. “We thought we could easily beat them and they beat us.”
She said this upcoming game will require the team to come together and change their attitude. Niles felt her team had plenty of opportunities to win.
“We have to take it seriously, for I feel that the last game we had the attitude that ‘we are already going to state and we had beaten them before,’” she said. “This game we have to have more focus. And we need to have the mindset that when the game starts, ‘a more we-need-to-play-now attitude.’ Because I feel we started out rough and almost got scored on in the first minute of the game. That was scary.”
Contact sports editor Vern Hee at email@example.com
Senior Kathy Niles knows her team can come back from losing the regional.
“We can do this and we just have to trust each other,” she said.
Saturday was a reality check for the Trojans girls soccer team and maybe a bit of deja vu, having lost the regional championship, 2-1 on Saturday to Sunrise Mountain.
Sometimes teams need to hear about great athletes in the past like the Packers call upon Vince Lombardi or the Dodgers talk about the great Jackie Robinson, or how the 49ers look to the years of Jerry Rice and Joe Montana.
Like those teams, the Trojans have had their moment in the sun too.
For those who remember, the 2012 girls team was in the same situation as our team today.
Back in 2012, the Trojans girls team had lost the regional to Faith Lutheran 2-0.
Everyone was asking the same questions then as they are today. Could they come back from such a heartbreaking defeat?
The question was answered back then with a resounding yes.
Pahrump had to win two games and they did. They faced the first-seed Northern team, South Tahoe and beat them 8-3 in the first round and came back to beat Faith Lutheran in the state final round 3-0.
How did they do it? According to then-assistant coach Joe Sladek, it wasn’t easy.
“To be completely honest … the hardest part was the mental preparation for the state tournament,” Sladek said. “We had a group of girls that knew they could win and just had to put the regional loss out of their minds and focus on the semifinal match, which if I remember correctly, they beat Tahoe 8-3.”
He said it was all about knowing that they were the better team.
“The girls had trained all season and we just had to make a few adjustments for the finals against Faith Lutheran,” he said. “Once again, it was the mental preparation … and that group of girls hated to lose and it was almost a revenge win for them. So losing at regionals was actually a blessing … sometimes a loss can really motivate a team to perform at their highest level … which they did in the final. I remember telling them to just play naturally and relax … they had played in dozens of big matches over their soccer careers and this was just another game. Intensity was key and to play like their hair was on fire!”
Vern Hee, sports editor