SPRING CREEK — Height, weight, speed, goals scored, assists — all measurable components of a soccer player.
Without extensive medical tests, one thing that cannot be measured is the size of someone’s heart.
Never mind that Spring Creek senior Kattalin Lopategui stands at 5-foot-1-inch, that she is slight and slender in build or that most people do not know how to correctly pronounce her Basque name.
The thing beating in the left side of chest — combined with her skills on the pitch — and her competitiveness, unselfishness and coachability are just parts of what make her an incredible athlete.
In her final season with the Lady Spartans, Lopategui led her team to within a goal of qualifying for the state tournament — Spring Creek finishing with a 10-8-5 overall record and a 10-6-4 mark against 3A North opponents — falling just shy in a 1-0 loss to No. 1 ranked South Tahoe in the 3A North regional semifinal.
Lopategui ranked eighth in the 3A North in scoring with 20 points, tying for the team highs with eight goals and four assists.
She tied for sixth in the league in goals scored and finished tied for 16th in assists.
Despite both battling through and missing games with multiple injuries — including fracturing her wrist in the 3A North quarterfinal and playing with a soft cast in the semifinal loss — Lopategui scored a goal in eight contests.
Her sophomore season was cut down early, breaking her leg during a home game against Incline with six games remaining in the 2017 season.
Lopategui’s high-point total of the 2019 season came in a one-goal, one-assist output during a 4-1 victory over the Lady Greenwave on Oct. 24, in Fallon.
With the contest deadlocked 1-1 in the closing minutes on Nov. 1, at Elko, Lopategui stole an inbound pass and dished a dime ahead to sophomore Payge Walz for the game-winning score in the 78th minute — knocking the Lady Indians out of playoff contention on their senior night.
Sometimes, life and sports are unfair.
The fact Elko senior Olivia Smales never played a postseason soccer match during her career is a tragedy.
Like Lopategui, Smales possesses skills and the types of things that can’t be taught — an innate, instinctive drive, smarts and grit.
She appeared to have enormous potential since her emergence on the varsity team as a freshman, a season in which she scored five goals and made an assist.
However, a torn ACL the next preseason took away her entire sophomore season — never seeing the field for a single minute.
Coming off seasons in which Elko had the best goalie in the state — Lauryn Drake in the frame from 2015 to 2017 — the Lady Indians started Smales in the midfield during her junior year.
As she worked back from her injury, Elko needed more help in the back end of the defense — Smales making the transition to sweeper.
She finished the season with an honorable mention for the league awards, staying at the position during her senior year.
Smales routinely covered up mistakes, made plays as the last line of defense and allowed other defenders to make overlapping runs up the field — serving as the No. 1 sweeper in the 3A North — capping her career with a 1st-Team All-League honor and a spot in the 2nd-Team All-State list.
As a team, Elko pitched 10 shutouts in 21 games — finishing with an 8-7-6 overall record and a 7-6-5 record in league play — allowing just 19 goals on the season but scoring just 24 of its own.
Offensively, Smales scored her lone goal of the season in a 2-0 victory on Sept. 14, in Sparks.
The Lady Indians finished in sixth place of the 3A North “A” league — the top-five advancing to the regional tournament — Elko missing the playoffs for the sixth-consecutive season.
With a new goalie between the posts in each of the last-two seasons, junior Elayna Orr made an immediate impact in the frame for the Lady Indians, earning a 1st-Team All-League selection at keeper.
In her first season of tending full-time at the varsity level, Orr was fierce, fiery and stingy.
Orr ranked No. 2 in the 3A North with 179 saves.
Her average of .095 goals allowed per contest was also the second-best clip in the league, giving up just 19 goals in 21 matches.
She held her defense accountable, both verbally and through visual reminders of what it took to be lock-down good at what she did.
Orr posted seven games with double-digit saves in 18 tries — notching nine stops three times and posting eight stuffs in three other matches.
She recorded a season-high 16 saves in a 0-0 tie on Aug. 24 against Pahrump Valley, in South Tahoe, California, booking 14 more in a 2-0 loss on Aug. 31 versus the eventual state champions — the Lady Wolverines — in Truckee, California.
Although Orr and the Elko defense tallied 10 shutout efforts and 14 one-goal performances, the Lady Indians were held scoreless six times and netted just one goal in nine ballgames — mounting multiple scores in only six of 21 contests.
Orr did what she could to get into the dance but of the five-postseason squads from the 3A North, no playoff-bound team scored less than 34 goals — the Lady Indians booking only 24 for the year.
Elko’s season basically boiled down to a 0-0 tie at home to Fallon on Sept. 20 and a 2-1 loss to the Lady Greenwave on Oct. 25, in Fallon, the Lady Indians unable to pick up a win against a team that finished 5-11-2 in the 3A North.
The Lady Indians tied for the final postseason berth with Incline, but the Lady Highlanders held the head-to-head advantage with a 2-1 victory on Sept. 6, in Elko, and a 1-0 win on Oct. 4, at Incline.
A trio of local 1st-Team All-League selections, a three-pack of 2nd-Team All-North athletes followed.
Like Elko with Orr, Spring Creek also benefitted from a capable tender.
Junior Betsy Fellows made plenty of stops herself for the Lady Spartans.
For the season, she stuffed 127 shots — finishing fourth in the 3A North in saves.
Fellows booked double-digit stops four times — adding two nine-save contests — closing the year with 11 saves in a 1-0 loss to South Tahoe in the regional semifinal on Nov. 8, in Fallon.
On Oct. 11, in Spring Creek, she played lights out in a 2-1 victory over eventual state champion Truckee — the Lady Spartans’ first-ever win against the Lady Wolverines — posting a season-best 14 saves.
Fellows and the Spring Creek defense pitched a shutout on seven occasions, allowing just one goal nine times — giving up multiple-goal outputs just seven times in 23 tries.
For the year, the Lady Spartans allowed 27 goals in 23 matches and gave up 1.17 goals per game — the third-best rate in the league of teams that posted totals for goals-allowed average.
Unquestionably, the future of Spring Creek’s program will revolve largely around sophomore Shyann Lamb.
After earning a varsity spot as a freshman — possessing the unique knack of playing quality ball at both goalie and in the field — Lamb took her game to new heights in her second season.
She tied Lopategui for the team high in goals scored with eight, splitting sixth in the league.
Lamb has the ability to put the ball in the net from virtually anywhere on the field, her powerful leg allowing for solid strikes from long distance.
She routinely took and cashed direct kicks for the Lady Spartans, several scores coming from outside the 18-yard box and midfield.
In Spring Creek’s 2-1 win over Truckee, she gave the Lady Spartans the lead for good with a penalty kick after a foul on a corner kick in the 46th minute — her second goal lifting her team to the win — Lamb’s first score of the contest coming in just the second minute from about five yards from the midfield stripe on a direct kick, posting each of Spring Creek’s goals.
She ripped a team-high, multiple-goal output on two occasions — notching at least one score five times.
In a 6-0 blowout on Sept. 13, in Sparks, Lamb blitzed the Lady Railroaders for half of the damage by herself — pasting a season-best three boots in the net.
Much like Smales, Spring Creek junior Lydia Binger put her team ahead of her herself — no “I” in “Me”.
Possessing blazing speed, Binger scored five goals as a sophomore — a potent weapon who took the top off opposing defenses.
However, she moved back to defend for the majority of her junior season.
With great ability to recover, she often shut down attacks at the last moment — a huge component of the Lady Spartans’ ability to give up just 27 goals in 23 contests for a 1.17 goals-allowed average.
When presented the opportunity to create, Binger could turn defense into offense — making overlapping runs and carrying the ball down the field.
On Sept. 7, she scored her first of two goals on the season in a 1-1 tie against Incline, in Spring Creek, capping her goal scoring in a 3-0 home win over Lowry on Sept. 17 — also dishing an assist in the contest.
A pair of Lady Indians played their ways to honorable mentions for the league awards, one on her way out and the other just getting started.
Freshman Avery Beatty has shown glimpses of tremendous promise, leading Elko in scoring with four goals on the season.
Her first varsity goal came in a 1-1 tie on Sept. 7, her line-drive rope from long distance on the right wing tying the contest in the 72nd minute versus No. 1 ranked South Tahoe.
Beatty added her second score on Oct. 19, breaking a scoreless deadlock with a go-ahead goal off a rebound during a 2-0 home win against Sparks.
She punched home a goal in each of Elko’s last-two games, scoring one in a 2-1 road win against Lowry, in Winnemucca, adding her last in the Lady Indians’ season finale.
Her goal in the seventh minute opened a 1-0 lead over Spring Creek on Nov. 1, at Adobe Middle School, before the Lady Spartans rallied with two scores in six-minute span in the 72nd and 78th minutes for a 2-1 win.
Beatty also dished an assist on Aug. 30 in a 3-1 road win at North Tahoe.
In her final season, senior Dariahn Primeaux tallied three goals — tying for second on the roster — and made two assists, tying for second on the team in each category.
She scored her first goal of the year in a 4-1 loss on Aug. 23 against Shadow Ridge, in South Tahoe, and dished an assist on the next day in a 1-0 victory over Carson.
Her second assist came courtesy of a 3-1 win on Aug. 30, at North Tahoe, and her final scores of the year came in back-to-back games.
She capped a 3-0 victory with a late score against North Valleys on Oct. 18, at Adobe Middle School, adding another clincher in the closing moments on Oct. 19 in a 2-0 shutout of Sparks.
Congratulations to Kattalin Lopategui on her 1st-Team All-State honor in the midfield, Olivia Smales for her 2nd-Team All-State nod as a sweeper, 1st-Team All-North goalie Elayna Orr, the 2nd-Team All-League performances of Betsy Fellows, Shyann Lamb and Lydia Binger and for honorable efforts by Avery Beatty and Dariahn Primeaux.
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