I-A GIRLS SOCCER: Crusaders shake South Tahoe jinx, win first state title

Faith Lutheran’s girls soccer team had grown tired of being sent home from the Division I-A state tournament by South Tahoe.

On Saturday, the Crusaders got revenge and a big reward.

Maggie Shuirman’s goal early in the first half and stellar play by the team’s defense allowed Faith Lutheran to win its first state title with a 1-0 victory over the host Vikings in South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

South Tahoe defeated the Crusaders in the state semifinals in each of the last two seasons and had won four state titles in the last five seasons.

“It just feels really satisfying to come here and to finally get past this last hurdle,” said Faith Lutheran coach Steve Morrill. “Four years of going to the state semifinals, one runnerup finish and now finally getting past that is really satisfying. I’m excited for the girls. This is something they can take with them for the rest of their lives.

“(South Tahoe) is a really good team, easily in the top three or four we have seen this year. The last two years, we didn’t play all that well against them. The girls knew they would face some adversity today, and they came through it.”

Shuirman took a pass from Megan Sonerholm on the left wing, beat one defender and fired a shot into the lower right corner of the net just 12 minutes, 24 seconds into the match to give Faith Lutheran (20-6-3) the lead.

The Crusaders had just missed grabbing the lead two minutes into the match when they hit the crossbar and had a handful of other chances to score early.

“Our goal was to come out and be aggressive from the get-go,” Morrill said.

The Vikings (15-3-4) turned up their offensive pressure in the last 20 minutes of the match, but Faith Lutheran didn’t break. Morrill credited his defense, led by Nikki Amavisca, Kayla Murai, Mary Martinez and Sofia Silvestri with holding South Tahoe at bay.

“They played a heck of a weekend,” he said.

Faith Lutheran were without senior Brenna Rohnkohl, one of the team’s top defenders, all weekend after she was injured in the Southern Region final. Rohnkohl, Murai, Kristi Chinn, Lexi Neuhauser and Tierney Tomburo have played in four straight state tournaments.

Beka Lescenski made 10 saves and earned her 16th shutout of the season for the Crusaders.

“She got peppered and played a heck of a game for us,” Morrill said.

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