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Zuraff, Walz save Spring Creek late in 2 OT win — Lady Spartans beat North Tahoe 2-1 in 3A North quarterfinal
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Zuraff, Walz save Spring Creek late in 2 OT win — Lady Spartans beat North Tahoe 2-1 in 3A North quarterfinal

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FALLON — It’s not over until it’s over, but the end was near.

On Thursday, the No.3 Spring Creek girls soccer team started slowly — playing far from its best game — but the Lady Spartans never quit.

After a scoreless first half in the regional quarterfinal, No. 4 North Tahoe opened a 1-0 lead after the break and held the advantage for all but 20 seconds.

At the 79:40 mark, sophomore Payge Walz extended the year — poking a season-saving, game-tying score — forcing overtime.

After neither squad scored in the first golden-ball overtime period, the match advanced to double OT — not progressing for long.

Two minutes into the second OT, Spring Creek junior Chloe Zuraff fought through contact and around a defender on the right wing — beating the goalie with a game-clinching dagger.

The Lady Spartans overcame a slow start and finished strong, earning a spot in the 3A North semifinal round with a 2-1 victory.

No. 3 Spring Creek will face No. 1 South Tahoe at 2 p.m. Friday, the winner advancing to the regional championship and the state tournament.

The Lady Vikings dismantled “B” league No. 3 Fernley by a final score of 7-0 on Thursday.

As for Spring Creek’s match on Thursday, the Lady Spartans played the majority of the first half in front of their own goal.

Senior Olivia Sproehnle found a couple early shots for the Lady Lakers, nailing one high and the other saved by Spring Creek junior goalkeeper Betsy Fellows.

Senior Aliza Neu also drilled a ball over the frame, and a direct kick by senior Hallie Clute was stopped by Fellows.

Fellows also made a save on a kick by junior Delila Quinn.

The Lady Spartans finally advanced the ball down the field and earned a direct kick when freshman Taylor Brunson was knocked down just outside the box, the ball off the foot of sophomore Shyann Lamb tagged low and scooped up by the North Tahoe keeper.

Spring Creek struggled with possession and first-touch control, not finding feet with passes and often kicking the ball to North Tahoe.

The Lady Lakers were unable to take advantage of multiple corner kicks, and senior Paige McGarry hit a shot wide to the left of the frame.

Toward the end of the half, the Lady Spartans began to attack with more success.

Junior Hailee Dixon flipped the field on the left side and passed ahead to senior Libby Murphy, whose shot was saved by the goalie.

On the other end, Fellows made a quick-reaction grab on a hammered shot off a volley by Quinn.

Fellows made another stop on an attempt by Quinn, and Spring Creek closed the half with the momentum.

Lamb thumped a direct kick, the ball initially stopped and nearly followed in by Dixon.

Freshman Elley Dilworth also followed a shot and came close to giving the Lady Spartans the lead, Lamb ending the half with another direct kick.

At the break, Spring Creek and North Tahoe were knotted up 0-0.

Opening the second half, the Lady Spartans found some more opportunities — Dilworth and junior Mollie Spillman each stopped on second-chance efforts.

In the 58th minute, the Lady Lakers grabbed the lead.

From a deflection, Quinn came free on the left side and stroked a line drive for a 1-0 advantage.

Lamb launched a direct kick that was saved, another shot by Dixon also stuffed.

Fellows preserved the one-goal deficit just in front of charging senior Maile Markham and stopped another shot by junior Esme Vera — who nailed another ball over the crossbar.

Zuraff took a shot from the right wing and missed wide, and junior Lydia Binger nearly tied the contest but the goalie came forward for a big stop.

Freshman Arena McDermott advanced to the offensive side of the field for an attempt, the kick saved.

From the wing, Zuraff poked another ball — Binger coming close for a follow-up.

Binger missed a kick wide to the right, and a direct kick by Lamb sailed wide-left.

With time dwindling, Spring Creek was getting the better of the action but needing a score.

A goal kick by North Tahoe with less than a minute remaining bounced around the midfield before the Lady Spartans made another push.

A ball was deflected back, Walz collecting the possession and running forward.

As the defender and the goalie came out, she poked a shot through the crowd — bringing the crowd on the sideline and her teammates to their feet with a roar.

With 20 seconds remaining in the season, she ensured some extra soccer.

The whistle blew, the game tied 1-1.

In the first overtime, North Tahoe launched a shot that would have ended the frame early — the ball flying high.

Fellows was busy in the back end for a few minutes, but the Lady Spartans kept fighting — swapping the field position with regularity.

A shot by Binger was deflected and resulted in a corner kick, the boot sent over the swarm in the box.

Lamb took another direct kick that was on-frame but saved, another shot by Binger also stuffed.

A direct kick by Lamb missed wide to the left, and McDermott sent a gorgeous ball from a takeaway diagonally from the right to the left — Lopategui in position, the keeper deflecting the ball.

Spring Creek almost ended the match with another corner kick, and Lopategui tagged a shot from the left side — the ball crossing wide to the right of the far post.

After the first overtime, the game was deadlocked once again.

The Lady Lakers had a clean look for a potential winner, but the shot by Vera sailed oved the crossbar.

Following the miss, Zuraff did not.

She pressed the right side and fought through a slide tackle, regaining possession of the ball.

As the keeper came out, it was too late — Zuraff already poking the ball.

The shot trickled across the middle and rolled into an open net, lifting the Lady Spartans to a 2-1 victory and placing Spring Creek in the regional semifinal.

Game Time

No. 3 Spring Creek will face No. 1 South Tahoe at 2 p.m. Friday, in Fallon.

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