CARSON CITY -- When the Northern 4A playoffs begin on Saturday, Carson will still be looking for its first goal in three games and South Tahoe will be looking to extend its first unbeaten season since 1999.
The Vikings, who came into Wednesday's game against the Senators with the Sierra League championship already won, still had enough incentive to play well in their 1-0 win at Carson High.
"Obviously, we wanted to go into zone on a positive note," said coach Joe Winters, who saw last year's team get upset by Sparks in the first round of the playoffs. "It took us a little bit to get on track. Carson really took it to us in the first 20 minutes."
Carson, which will be the No. 2 seed from the Sierra League and will likely face Reed in the first round, isn't exactly going into the postseason on a roll. The Senators (11-1-6 overall, 6-1-5 league) haven't won since a 3-1 win over Fallon on Oct. 16 and are 0-1-3 in their last four games, including a pair of 0-0 ties with Wooster and Reno.
"There's no sense worrying about it (not scoring)," said coach Jim Nealis. "They know how to score, it's just a matter of going out and doing it. I thought we played really well. Two good teams going at it. They scored, we didn't. If we play like we did today, we'll see South Tahoe in the finals."
Carson put the pressure on early but nothing came out of it. South Tahoe went up 1-0 in the 36th minute after Alex Torres collected a ball near midfield a played it into space on the right side for Victor Mariscal, who beat goalie Sean Carter with a lovely chip to the far post. The Senators best chance came in the second half when Julio Deleon blasted a shot from 35 yards out that bounced off the bar. Most of Carson's shots came from long range, though, as the Viking defense didn't allow the Senators anything else.
"They were very sound defensively," Nealis said. "They would keep three guys behind the ball and they kind of forced us to take long shots. But I'm happy that we took them because we haven't been. I'd like to see my guys take more people on, though."
South Tahoe, which has now won the two consecutive Sierra League titles, finishes the regular season 13-0-2 overall and 10-0-2 in league play. The last time the Vikings went undefeated was in 1999 and their only loss that season was in the 4A state championship game, when Green Valley beat them 1-0.
When the Railroaders upset South Tahoe last year, Winters had a team that was good enough to get back to the state title game. He knows the disappointment from that game is still in his players' minds.
"It can help us (losing that game). We have 10 guys on this team that remember what happened last year," Winters said. "But when teams know they're playing against a good offensive team, they can go into a shell and play defensively. You would think that you would still get a couple of opporutunites and the better team would win. But it's a fickle game, it doesn't always happen that way."