RENO — For the third straight year, Carson High’s girls soccer team has qualified for the NIAA state playoffs.
Thanks to goals by Josilyn Daggs, Chantel Torres and Sammi Gutierrez, and outstanding defense led by Lindy Lehman and Valerie Sue Meyer, the Senators blanked Reno, 3-0, in the Division I regional semifinals Wednesday night a Damonte Ranch High School.
The win advanced Carson into the finals against Galena, a 1-0 winner over regular-season champion Douglas. The championship game is set for noon on Saturday at Bishop Manogue. Both teams automatically qualify for the state tournament next week at Carson.
“It feels real good (to make state),” said second-year head coach Greg Lehman, who guided the Senators to the state tournament last year. Carson lost to Green Valley on penalty kicks in the opening round last year in Henderson. In 2011, Carson lost to Pahrump in its state opener. Maybe the third time will be the charm for the Senators, who haven’t won a state title since 2001 when the Las Vegas schools weren’t involved.
In Las Vegas, Bishop Gorman and Arbor View will meet for the Sunrise title on Saturday, while Green Valley and Coronado clash for the Sunset crown, also on Saturday. The winners will make the trek to Carson City next weekend.
When Reno and Carson played on Oct. 24 at Carson, the teams battled to a 3-3 tie. The three goals were the most Carson allowed in a single game all year. On Wednesday, Reno managed just three shots on goal the entire match, and only once was Carson keeper Karla Reyes seriously challenged.
“This game we were better prepared for their counter attacks,” said Lehman. “As soon as they get control of the ball, they like to attack right away. If we don’t recognize it early, it can create problems. They have two of the best forwards around, and we were able to keep them in check.
“I thought Lindy, Valerie and Katherine (Leist) played well. Lindy and Valerie work well together. Lindy played a very good game tonight.”
The younger Lehman seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Her decision making on the field was spot on. She played with the moxie of a junior or senior.
“We communicated better this time,” Lindy Lehman said. “We played better as a team. The first half we were nervous and jittery.”
It resulted in what amounted to kickball by both teams. Neither Carson or Reno generated much offense through the first 30 minutes of the match.
Josilyn Daggs, who scored twice in the playoff opener against Reed on Monday, broke the scoreless tie with a goal in the 32nd minute which turned out to be the only goal of the half.
The Senators started the second half in much more assertive fashion. In the 43rd minute, Jamie Perez made a good center, and approximately 60 seconds later, the Reno goalie made a diving stop of a Daggs shot.
Chantal Torres made it 2-0 in the 66th minute when she beat the Reno keeper from about 25 yards out.
“It was a floater,” Torres said. “I saw Mayra (Oliveras) and the defender moved into that space and left me open for the shot.”
Seven minutes later, Gutierrez made it 3-0. The Reno keeper came up on the ball, and Gutierrez was able to chip it over her head.
Reno had a free kick with four minutes left, but the shot sailed over the crossbar. From there, the Carson defense was able to control the rest of the game.
Carson would like nothing better than to grab its second straight regional title. The Senators beat Galena 2-1 back on Sept. 10, and then the teams battled to a scoreless tie at Carson on Oct. 5.
Following the game, Kiahna Pimental thanked the team for winning the game, Pimental, who was academically ineligible, is expected to return to action next week for the state tournament. Her presence gives the Senators a big boost.
“She’s the team captain and a very talented player,” coach Lehman said. “She has great vision of the field and she’s great with her feet.”
“It will be awesome to get her back,” said the younger Lehman.
GALENA 1, DOUGLAS 0
RENO — Tatiana Hagan’s goal in the 18th minute was the difference on Wednesday night for the Galena Grizzlies in their 1-0 victory against Douglas in the Division I Northern Region Girls Soccer Tournament semifinals at Damonte Ranch High School.
Douglas ended its season with a 14-2-2 overall record, both losses coming to Galena. The Tigers lost 2-1 at Galena on Oct. 12.
“You’ve got to given them credit,” Douglas coach Jenny Jaggard said.
“They played very well, especially the first 20 minutes. They had us back pedaling. It just seemed like we came out flat.”
Hagan had a one-on-one opportunity in the 9th minute, however, Douglas goalkeeper Corryn Millett come out to smother the ball. Hagan had better fortune on her next shot when the sophomore drove up the middle to beat two defenders and struck a grounder that glanced off Millett’s hands and trickled just inside the goalpost.
Douglas had its opportunities, including a stretch midway through the second half when the Tigers had six shots during a span of five minutes.
The best shot was taken by McKenna Kynett, who blasted a line drive from the left side, only to see Galena goalkeeper Greer Sullivan leave her feet and extend to swat the ball away.
Galena had a chance to extend its lead on a penalty kick with 11 minutes to go, but Brooke Cherry’s shot rolled wide left.
Despite the disappointing finish, the Tigers did enjoy success during a season in which they won the Sierra League championship.
“We had a great year,” Jaggard said. “We played with a lot of heart to the end.”
Dave Price of The Record-Courier contributed to this report.