SPARKS -- The Carson High girls soccer team roller coaster of a season ended in heartbreaking fashion on Saturday afternoon at Reed High.
Reed, the High Desert League champion, used Jilli Harris' game-winning goal to beat the Senators 1-0 in overtime in the first round of the Northern 4A playoffs. Harris took a pass from Tia Bartek on what was a broken play near Carson's penalty box three minutes into the second golden goal overtime and scored easily.
"It was just a miscommunication in the back," said Carson coach Mike Popp. "That happens. I think our girls did a great job against a first place team."
The past three seasons, the Raiders and Senators have ended one another's season in the playoffs. Two years ago, Reed upset Carson 3-1 in the semifinals. Last season, the Senators beat the Raiders in the first round en route to their Northern 4A championship. Popp isn't sure if the same thing will happen to Reed this year.
"If that's the best Reed's got, they're going down," Popp said. "They're a good team but I think the Sierra League is the tougher division."
The Senators had to replace seven starters off last year's team and that meant unproven varsity players taking over, including five underclassmen. Carson struggled early but got better as the season went on, although that improvement wasn't enough against the Raiders.
"I thought we'd probably go a little bit further," Popp said. "We've come a long way since the beginning of the season. We tied South Tahoe and lost to Reno 1-0 at the end of the season, so we knew we could compete. We were very confident coming into this game."
In the 18th minute, Jennifer Mavis floated a direct kick from 35 yards out over the head of goalie Courtney Hale to give the Raiders a 1-0 lead. It appeared that would be all they needed as the Senators were unable to get behind Reed's defense most of the game. But in the 71st minute, Cassie Bowman's cross was bobbled and coughed up by Reed goalie Jennifer Apodaca, who then saw Katie Kotter run onto the loose ball and score to make it 1-1.
Once in overtime, neither team threatened in the first overtime period. But Reed appeared to have won in the first minute of the second 15-minute overtime period after Mavis drilled a low shot off an indirect kick. But the referee hadn't blown his whistle yet to restart play and called the goal back. Two minutes later, Harris scored. If the Senators had held Reed scoreless again, the game would've gone to penalty kicks.
"I really didn't want to go to PKs because I don't think it's a good way to win," Popp said. "I told the girls to do whatever they could to score. They play a very deep sweeper and it was hard for our players to adjust to that. We'll back next year."
In the other first-round game played at Reed High, South Tahoe cruised to a 4-0 win over McQueen. Reed will play the Vikings in the semifinals on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Reno High.