19-0. Carson High girls soccer coach Randy Roser maintained perspective as his team goes for the perfect season.
"I would call that respectable," said Roser if his team ends up 19-1. "20-0 would be incredible."
The Senators will go for a perfect 20-0 record and the NIAA Northern 4A title at 4 p.m. Saturday when they face Galena in the zone finals at 4 p.m. Saturday at Mackay Stadium.
Roser said his goal before the season was to finish in the top four in the Northern 4A. "But our seniors decided they wanted to go undefeated so here we are," he said.
Those seniors are Sammy Valerius, Alli Otto, Sophia Rafael, Kasey Cano, Krista Wisbar and Cassie Bowman. "All of the seniors have done a tremendous job bringing on the others," Roser said.
The strategy for Carson isn't complicated: To apply pressure and use its speed. Galena will look to negate Carson's speed.
Carson assistant coach Greg Davis put it in simple terms before Thursday's practice. "if we possess the ball Saturday we're going to win," he told the team. "If we don't we're going to lose."
Roser said the key will be how much his forwards and midfielders will be able to pressure Galena's defense. "They know they can do it," said Roser about his team.
But Roser also admitted it's hard to predict what will happen. Last year the Senators crushed Galena 5-0 early in the season, but the Grizzlies came back to beat Carson 2-1 in the first round of the playoffs on their way to the Northern 4A title. The two teams haven't met this year. "In a game like this you never know," Roser said.
Carson's speedy players such as Brandi Vega, Kayla Sanchez and Danielle Benamati should benefit from playing on Mackay's Field Turf. "We feel like that's a plus for us," Roser said.
Roser also expects a strong contingent from Carson. "It sounds like every girl has two or three teachers, family and friends," said Roser, who added many Carson fans are even planning tailgate parties. "It should be a great turnout. We hope so. It would be nice to get the support."
While Carson has a potent offense, Galena has the goalie to deny the Senators in Caitlin Anderson, who came up big in the zone semifinals. Anderson stopped three shots in a shootout as Galena beat Reed to reach the zone finals.
While it's expected that Galena will focus defensively on stopping Carson, the Grizzlies have offensive threats of their own, including Abbie and Libby Walker.
Carson is a solid all-around team. Starting goalie Alli Otto and backup goalie Brittany DeRosa along with defenders Valerius, Anna Macquarie, Belle Fleming and Wisbar have posted 10 shutouts this year.
Bowman, Benamati, Ann Sinnott and Rafael control the midfield while Brandi Vega and Kasey Cano start up front. In the mix up front is Sanchez as Roser will use the combination he feels has the best chemistry. Benamati can also be moved up front to give Carson more of a push.
But the Senators are more than just their starting 11. Roser has 20 players on his roster and he said he has confidence in all 20. "The starting 11 are very good, but the other nine can step in," Roser said.
They include Carli Smith, who can provide a more physical style at midfield and midfielder Rebecca Kane, who scored the go-ahead goal in a 2-1 win over McQueen in the zone semifinals. Roser said Kane is "very good with the ball."
As if Carson doesn't have enough speed, Amanda Osborne is another midfielder that can provide more speed when needed. Kristin Rush, Brandy Cantley and Jill Coats provide depth on defense and Justine Von Rumpf provides depth at midfield.
Benamati leads the team with 18 goals while Bowman has scored 12. Vega has nine goals and 15 assists and Cano has nine goals and 12 assists. Sanchez has 10 goals and Valerius also has 10 goals, an impressive number for a defender. Carson has outscored its opponents 93-14 this year.