Aria Heath races against a defensive Coyote for possession of the ball during the first home game of the season. Photo by Ashley Grogan

Lady Cougars suffer harsh start to conference

The Lady Cougar soccer team hosted the first game of conference Tuesday, Sept. 26 against the Lake Tahoe Coyotes.

After a preseason with some pretty hefty wins and equally hefty losses, fans couldn’t quite predict how the first game of the conference would finish.

Unfortunately, the Sept. 26 game fell into the latter category with a dramatic loss of 8-0 against the Coyotes.

The game started rough for the Cougars as the Coyotes scored their first goal 10 minutes into the game.

The Cougars continued to struggle as the 1-0 score wasn’t appearing to go anywhere. When it did advance, however, it was in favor of the Lake Tahoe team.

Sara Anne Clark goes into a one-on-one battle with a Lake Tahoe Coyote in order to gain possession of the ball Tuesday, Sept. 26. Photo by Ashley Grogan

The Coyotes made three shots on goal between the 16th and 22nd minute of the game, but Lassen’s keeper kept the first two from entering the net. Though the third finally made it in, the Cougar defensive line worked together to ensure the goal was as safe as possible.

Brianna Mendonca made a shot on goal as the clock neared 28 minutes in, and Emily Upstone followed with another shortly afterward, but the Coyote defense wouldn’t allow the ball in the net.

Lake Tahoe cashed in a few of their good luck chips as the half neared its end with two goals in the span of four minutes.

Lassen refused to give up their hustle, however, as the Lady Cougars continued to pass the ball down the field. Upon the ball reentering Cougar territory, Brenna Mendonca showed some fancy footwork by gaining possession, crossing the 50-yard line and dodging a total of four Coyotes before passing the ball off.

The ordeal allowed Brenna Mendonca to gain more than 40 yards for the Cougars, but the ball didn’t find itself in the Coyote net prior to the halftime whistle.

With a 4-0 Lake Tahoe score, the Cougars used the break to hydrate and refuel their passion for the game.

Freja Magnussen gives a strong kick to send the ball flying from Cougar territory to that of the Coyotes. Photo by Ashley Grogan

The Coyotes picked up the game right where they left off with passion and a strong sense of teamwork radiating throughout the field. Ten minutes into the second half, Lake Tahoe found themselves gaining on the goal quickly, but a strong block from Serena Valdez stole the ball from the Coyotes and sent it to the Cougar offense.

The Coyotes regained possession and neared the Cougar goal once more, but this time, Brianna Mendonca was the one to send the ball flying away.

However, while two back-to-back Cougar blocks pleased the crowd, it only angered the Coyotes. With 12 minutes of the second half down, Lake Tahoe scored their fifth goal of the game.

Upon the start of the next round on the field, Brianna Mendonca broke away from the Coyote offensive line with the ball on-foot. She gained a solid 45 yards for the Cougars before the Coyotes gained possession yet again.

With the ball at their mercy, the Coyotes rushed down the field and attempted another goal, but the Lassen keeper kept the net safe yet again.

It took another 10 minutes of rough game play before Lake Tahoe made their next goal in the right corner of Lassen’s net. Soon afterward, a Coyote goal was made in the left corner of the net.

Within the next three minutes of the game, Brenna Mendonca suffered her second serious injury of the game that put play on hold.

Lake Tahoe later scored their eighth and ninth goal within minutes of each other.

With a 9-0 score on the board and a Cougar team a bit more worse for wear, the game was called with the Coyotes declared victors.