Carson High entered its final regular-season game minus midfielder Jon Guevara, defender Carlos Alvarado and defender Zach Smith.
Guevara and Alvarado had picked up red cards in the win over Wooster last weekend, while Smith was ill. And, to make matters worse, midfielder Danny Limon missed the game with a sprained ankle.
It didn't matter, as Carson went out and dominated Douglas 4-0 on Tuesday night in the final regular-season game for both teams. The win moved the Senators (7-4-5) into second place, and they earned a first-round home playoff game in the process.
"I feel we're playing great right now," said Cristian Hernandez, who scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the 33rd minute. "This was one of our best games of the year especially since we were without Jon, Carlos, Daniel and Zach."
"The kids knew what was at stake," coach Mehdi Samii said. "We are playing really good soccer right now. I wasn't worried (about missing three starters). For this game I thought we could handle it."
And, the Senators did exactly that.
Douglas had a couple of good looks, but the defense led by Michael Samii, Miguel Ortiz, Cruz Kerver, Mario Escalante, Angel Gomez, Adam Shoaf and Daniel Zuber kept the Tigers away from goalie Jose Gonzalez.
Carson didn't have much to show for its dominance in the first half, but that ended in the 33rd minute when Hernandez pounded one past Jonathan Gomez.
"I was dribbling the ball downfield, and the Douglas guy saw that I was going to pass the ball to the right and left a big gap and I decided to take shot," Hernandez said.
Hernandez had a free kick approximately two minutes later, but sent it high over the crossbar.
Carson had three good looks in the first four minutes of the second half, but in each instance the shots were wide.
In the 66th minute, Robert Abundis scored to make it 2-0. It appeared that the ball may have gone off a Douglas defender.
That took the wind out of the sails of the Tigers, according to DHS coach Vince Brown.
"We started moving more people up front after we went behind 2 nil," Brown said. "They (Carson) capitalized and scored a couple more goals. Carson is playing well right now. They are starting to play the ball around."
Carson made it 3-0 in the 72nd minute when Billy Goulardt scored, and then Francisco Barrios snuck behind the defense and easily beat the Douglas keeper in the 77th minute for the game's final goal.
"We kept the ball on the ground, and that was the key," Samii said. "They (Douglas) are good in the air. Our game is on the ground."