Most coaches preach the “one game at a time” doctrine, but it’s no secret that the goal of Mt. Shasta’s soccer team all year has been to bring back a Fall Soccer Championship that the school last won in 2014.
They reached their goal at Shastice Park on Saturday with a 2-0 win over a stubborn Tulelake squad that had tied the Bears in their season opener.
Senior Gavin Paisley put the Bears ahead early with a goal just 2 minutes into the game. A few seconds later a hard-kicked ball hit him on the left side of his face and he had to leave the game. Coach Brad Robinson never doubted Paisley’s toughness. “He knew he was going back on.”
Paisley confessed after the game that he was lucky he didn’t bleed because he would have been removed from the game until the bleeding stopped.
Tulelake provided a stiff challenge after Mt. Shasta opened the tourney with a couple of 8-0 wins. The Honkers guarded closely and prevented the breakaways the Bears enjoyed in their first 2 playoff games.
Both teams had a few good chances but neither could score until Paisley got his second goal of the game at 70:05 and took some of the pressure off.
Tulelake then began playing with desperation and generated a few good scoring chances. Ian Anderson swept away a couple of Honker passes in front of the goal and Ross Winters and Aleena Nova took the ball away from a Tulelake striker in close range.
Then it was over and the jubilant Bears celebrated at mid-field surrounded by friends and family, accepting the Northern Section Fall Soccer Tournament Championship plaque that goalkeeper Vitaliy Tveritin held high.
When asked if the Bears’ defense won the game, Coach Robinson shook his head. “Not just the defense, the whole team. We’re so deep, our scoring is from everywhere.”
Indeed, 19 players scored for Mt. Shasta this year. Paisley led the parade with 18 goals, Alexis Ramirez had 11 and Landon Turner 9 to pace the Bears.
They lose six seniors, including Paisley, who said he wanted to concentrate on his college studies but may look to play on a club team next year.
Goalkeeper Tveritin also moves on. He gave up 1 goal in the team’s first game then shut out the Bears’ next 12 opponents.
Also graduating are 5-goal scorer Chanel Berg, Chris Bachmann, who had an assist in the championship game, and Orion Alley.
The good news is that team returns a strong nucleus of underclassmen including top goal-scorers Ramirez, a junior, and Turner, a sophomore.
Returnees include juniors Ian Anderson, Ross Winters and Malachy Bryan, and sophomores Asher Aguirre and Emma Carpenter, who all looked sharp in the section tourney.
The section championship roster also includes juniors Aleena Nova and Holden Van Laeken; sophomores Corey Slabaugh, Will Winters, Ireland Cross, Kekai Ferguson and Rowan Theno; and freshmen Ajha Dennis-Florence, Caleb Hanson, Drew Hering, Casey Day and Brice Harkness.
Coach Robinson was assisted again this fall season by Alex Lujan.
Mt. Shasta finished an almost perfect season with a 12-0-1 record. Saturday’s loss was the first and only one for Tulelake, which tied the Bears for first place in the Shasta Cascade League and went 15-1-1 overall.
The Bears scored 77 goals and gave up only 1. Goalie Tveritin had 12 shutouts. They played 4 close matches with Trinity (1-0 and 1-0) and Tulelake (1-1 and 2-0), and won their other nine games by an average score of 8-0.