It took less than 30 seconds for the Douglas High School girls soccer team to get on the scoreboard on Tuesday night. The remaining 79 minutes belonged to Carson, however, as the Senators rallied to post a 3-1 victory at home against the Tigers in a battle between rival schools.
Carson scored three times during a 10-minute span midway through the second half and held on the rest of the way before a crowd of about 200. Significantly, the outcome created a three-way tie for first-place in the Sierra League between Carson, Douglas and South Tahoe, all at 5-1. South Tahoe dropped a 1-0 nonleague decision to Spanish Springs on Tuesday.
The Senators are now riding a three-game win streak and have won four of their last five, including an important 1-0 win at Reno on Saturday. Now they've beaten the defending Northern 4A Regional Tournament champion Tigers.
"We played really, really good and physical against Reno. That just got us even more prepared for Douglas," said Katie Kotter, who scored the go-ahead goal and was instrumental in the Senators' ball control all night. "This was exciting. It's always exciting to beat Douglas."
Douglas coach Fred Schmidt paid tribute to the Senators afterward.
"My hat's off to Carson," Schmidt said. "They outplayed us, especially the second half. They played intensely, like it was a playoff atmosphere."
The Senators benefited from the return of forwards Terah Laack and Stalling, who have battled injuries through much of this season -- Laack with an ankle, Stalling with a strained MCL. Stalling scored Carson's final goal.
"Having Sarah and Terah back in the lineup helped," Carson coach Randy Roser said. "That gave us our strength up front that we needed. Douglas got that quick goal, but other than that, we thought we really did a good job of possessing the ball."
Douglas took the opening kickoff and scored on a give-and-go from Hannah Sullivan to Christina Bradshaw to make it 1-0.
In the second half, Carson sophomore Sammi Valerius converted a penalty kick to tie the score with 23 minutes left to play. Katie Kotter scored on a rebound shot to put the Senators ahead 2-1 with 21:40 remaining. Sarah Stalling scored off an assist from Kasey Kano to add some insurance with 13 minutes to go.
The penalty kick came after Carson's Cassie Bowman went down inside the box on a drive. Valerius struck a grounder into the net past all-league goal keeper Andrea Bryant.
"We've been working on PKs in practice and she usually does very well," Roser said of Valerius. "Sophomore, we put a lot of pressure on her, but we figured she had to start somewhere and that this was a good match for her to do it."
The penalty kick was the game's turning point, according to Schmidt.
"We had a bad call on the penalty kick and lost our composure," he said. "Those things happen and my team needs to learn, if you get a bad call, you don't focus on the ref and give up. It took us until the last 10 minutes to regain our composure, and then we had four or five good chances, but if we take ourselves out of a game like that, we'll lose lots of games."
Carson came up big on the defensive end late, aided by a strong performance from Valerius from her sweeper position. "Sammi was very big on a lot of breakaways," Roser said.
Douglas had 11 shots on goal, five of which were stopped by Carson goalkeeper Allie Otto. She had three big saves in the final 10 minutes, including a diving stop going to her right on a short shot by Bradshaw in the final minute. Bradshaw had another opportunity on a breakaway with nine minutes remaining, but Otto came out of the net, blocked the shot and then smothered the ball without allowing a follow shot.
Notes ... This marked the first leg of the Nevada Appeal Carson-Douglas Aggregate Cup, which will be awarded to the school with the best combined score between the program's four teams, boys and girls teams and varsity and junior varsity teams this season. Carson and Douglas played to a 1-1 tie in the JV girls game. The varsity boys play at 7 p.m. tonight on the Carson soccer field. Douglas hosts Carson to end the regular season on Oct. 28-29.