After his team ended up with a surprising draw earlier this season, South Tahoe coach Joe Winters said North Valleys was a difficult team to play. On Saturday, Jim Nealis and his Carson Senators found out why.
The Panthers played tight defense and goalie Mike Jorgensen denied several Carson chances as the two teams tied 0-0 at Carson High.
North Valleys (4-0-2 overall, 2-0-2 league) would remain in a tie for second in the Sierra League with Carson if South Tahoe which beat Hug on Saturday, moving it into first place with a 3-0-1 record. Reno is in fourth at 1-1-1.
"They looked a little better than last year," Nealis said of the Panthers. "They pack it in and go for the counter attack. They pass the ball a little better and had a couple good, strong players. They attacked with their two guys up top and No. 10 (Dustin Mills) in the midfield."
Those two guys up top were Bobby Partida and Eduardo Ojeda. And along with Mills, the trio kept Carson honest whenever it tried to push too many players into the attack. But North Valleys was never able to convert its scoring chances, much to the disappointment of coach Steve Nicholas, a former Carson High student.
"Who's happy with a tie? We don't play to tie," Nicholas said. "But I'm very proud of the players."
And he should be. The Panthers have already came away with positive results against the two teams thought to be the frontrunners to win the league title. It seems as though after qualifying for the Northern 4A playoffs last season in only its first season in existence, North Valleys has the confidence--and the talent-- to do it again. But Nicholas is still unsure whether South Tahoe or Carson has been the more formidable opponent.
"Carson has a better defense and a better goalie," Nicholas said. "But South Tahoe has a couple more attacking players."
Judging from Carson's showing on Saturday, Nicholas was probably right. The Senators, though, were without their two starting center midfielders, Jesse Steele and Christian Losche. Steele is still recovering from a strained MCL and Losche missed the game because of a disciplinary problem. Both should be back next week, although Steele might sit out another week. Still, Carson should've managed to get one goal against the Panthers.
In the second half alone, the Senators had almost a half dozen uncontested, point blank shots. All were either missed or Jorgensen came up big for North Valleys.
"I thought we were the better team," Nealis said. "We're just not playing the way we do in practice. We couldn't produce anything offensively. But their goalie was good. He kept them in it. "
In the 44th minute, Alex Wolhforth had a one-on-one with the keeper but his shot was saved by Jorgensen, then hit the post before going out of bounds, strangely, for a goal kick. Kirkwood Harris had a brilliant header a few minutes later that was cleared off the goal line and freshman Loren Wooldridge had a wide open shot that was drilled right at Jorgensen. Carson's next best chance came in the 60th minute, when Bryce Burgess' shot almost was deflected into the goal after nicking a Panther defender. Plenty of chances, but nothing to show for it.
North Valleys has now been a nuisance for the Senators the past two years. The Panthers beat Carson last year in Reno, which not only gave the Senators their only back-to-back losses of the season, but it also dashed their hopes to win the league title. North Valleys also kept Douglas last year from making the playoffs for the first time ever under coach Phil Sheridan. Nicholas expects similar success this year.
"That's what we intend to do," Nicholas said.
CARSON JV 16, NORTH VALLEYS 0
Steve Mandoki scored six goals and Royal Good scored three more in the easy win. The Senators (4-0) have outscored their opponents 38-1 this season.
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