3A GIRLS SOCCER: Western comes up short in state final

Several Western girls soccer players collapsed to the pitch as Truckee players screamed in rapture just mere moments after officials ended the Class 3A state championship game on Saturday afternoon at Bettye Wilson Park.

Of course there’s the joy of victory.

And the agony of defeat.

The Warriors’ fairy-tale season came to an unceremonious end on Saturday with a 3-0 loss to the Wolverines in the state final.

It was the first state title game for the Western girls team, and droves of fans cheered on the Warriors (17-6-2) on Saturday afternoon. Those same fans also consoled misty-eyed players as Truckee (22-1) celebrated its title.

After the game, Western coach Shoichi Sato gathered his players in front of one of the nets, and a semicircle of Warriors’ fans watched as he delivered an emotional soliloquy about what exactly the team accomplished this season.

“They really brought the school and community together,” Sato said after he addressed his players. “It’s a really special opportunity for all of these girls to not only play soccer just for fun but to play soccer for Western High School and the community. They’ve made each member of the school, admin, students and faculty super proud.”

Even in defeat.

The Warriors had their fair share of scoring chances early, and Ellyson Reynada rang the crossbar about 20 minutes into the first half with a missile from 10 yards out.

The two teams traded possessions for most of the first half until Truckee’s Ava Seelenfreund cashed in on a scramble in front of the net right before halftime.

Wolverines’ forward Amber Simonpietri added two more goals in the second half, and Truckee kept Western at bay for most of the half.

“Simple passes. It was as simple as it is, just to keep possession,” Wolverines coach Kyle Kelly said. “We just tried to keep it simple. They’re a good team.”

And Sato said he thinks the Warriors have room to grow.

Several talented seniors led the way, but Western has a strong crop of underclassmen that Sato is hoping can build on this season’s successes.

“For me, I just want these freshmen, sophomores and juniors to remember what these seniors meant to the team,” Sato said. “They’re going to be gone, but we have such a strong core … For us, you’ve got to remember this moment and build on it because it totally can snowball. We can be a really good program.”

Sato thanked the seniors profusely for their contributions: a 3A Sunset League championship and the first state runner-up in school history.

“It means the world to us,” senior Kirsten Molina said. “We made history. And that’s all that matters.”

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