RENO - For 80 minutes the Carson and South Tahoe boys soccer teams went at each other Thursday at Damonte Ranch High School, with neither able to score a goal.
The Senators and Vikings continued to attack and counterattack through two 15-minute overtime periods with no offensive success in their semifinal match of the NIAA Northern 4A regional playoffs.
When the action finally subsided, South Tahoe had prevailed for a 1-0 win (4-2 in penalty kicks) to advance to meet Douglas - a 1-0 winner over Reed - in the regional championship game Saturday at Damonte Ranch.
Both South Tahoe and Douglas advanced to next week's state championships, also at Damonte.
"It was a very fun game. It was a fantastic game," said coach Jason Koop, whose Senators finished the season 20-3-4. "Both teams played well. Both teams had opportunities. It's fun to have a penalty-kick game; it's very exciting and puts a lot of pressure on everybody. But it's a tough way to lose.
"To me, the regional championship was decided tonight - no knock on Douglas. It was just the way both teams played tonight."
And both goalkeepers - Carson junior Brandon Briggs and South Tahoe senior Josh Doherty - were stellar and had had help from their defenses until it was time for the PKs.
South Tahoe's Chase Grant missed high and to the left of the net, but Doherty stopped Carson junior Blake Moreland's blast to keep it scoreless.
Gavin Chandler put South Tahoe up when he went to the upper left side of the net before Carson's Brady Roser finessed in a shot to the left side of the net to equal it 1-all.
Vikings sophomore Martin Cerceo kept the pressure up and went top-shelf left, but Senators senior Drew Good also finessed his shot left to make it 2-2.
South Tahoe's Tanner Braun hit the back of the inside post to make it 3-2. And after Doherty stopped Carson sophomore Israel Lopez, senior Omar Reyes buried his PK in the right side of the net past Briggs to give his Vikings the victory.
South Tahoe coach Chris DeLeon earlier this week took away the team's captaincy from five players and handed it to Doherty. DeLeon also removed from the team jerseys his players' last names to take away any individuality.
"Josh Doherty stepped up," said DeLeon, whose Vikings improved to 9-3-4. "He played the way he's been playing in practice. We practice PKs. He had phenomenal reads of each player. He went the wrong way once or twice, but he was reading the PKs really well. Today he was captain. He earned it."
It was the second consecutive year the Vikings ended the Senators' season. Last year, the Vikings beat Carson 3-0 in the regional championship game. Carson drew 1-1 with the Vikings before beating them 1-0 in the rematch during the regular season this year.
"Both teams were equal. Both had game plans. Both teams' defense was phenomenal," DeLeon said. "The worst part about soccer is the way you finish in PKs. It's like a chess match. We made the first mistake (on Roser's penalty kick), but Doherty got us two saves in key situations."
Koop credited his players - the Sierra League champions - for playing a tough game before shaking his head.
"It's a tough one to swallow," he said. "We tied them the first game and beat them the second time. Then we tied them here (until the PKs). They are well-coached. They played well. We did, too. One team finally made a mistake that cost them. Good luck to them."
DeLeon said his team will be facing the same set of circumstances against Douglas that it did against Carson.
"They beat us 1-0 and tied us 1-1," DeLeon said of the Tigers. "They played great (against Reed). It was the same thing for them: It came down who made the first mistake."
South Tahoe and Douglas meet at 2 p.m. Saturday. Also, the girls Northern 4A state championship will be decided when undefeated South Tahoe (16-0) meets unbeaten High Desert League champion Reed (9-0-5) at 4:30 p.m., also at Damonte Ranch High School.
DOUGLAS 1, REED 0
The scrappy Tigers, hampered by injuries, got a strong performance from keeper Jose Alcarez and a late goal from Edgar Arceo to beat High Desert League champion Reed, 1-0, in the other semifinal game.
Arceo took a cross from senior Kyle Gardner and put it past Raiders goalkeeper Joshua Iori-Tone in the 76th minute to give the never-say-die Tigers, now 18-4-1, a shot at the regional crown against South Tahoe and an automatic berth in next week's state championships.
"It feels incredible," said Alcarez, who had a key close-up save early in the game to keep the Raiders off the board (he had three saves overall). "It's something I've dreamt of since I was a freshman. I looked up to the older players. I saw them get close, but they didn't get there.
"We're going to dedicate this to the people that got close, but who never made it - the players from all the (other Douglas) teams."
Even after the match the Tigers showed the kind of second and third effort it took to beat the Raiders, who ended their season 11-1-2. After a trio of Tigers missed coach Milko Vasquez with a cooler full of water the first time (Vasquez avoided it with a spin move), they caught him on the head with about half a cooler the second time and with the remainder of the water a third time.
"That first-half save was critical," Vasquez said. "If we were down 1-0, a lot of kids could get more anxious. We kept our cool. Defensively we held our own well. That was important. The games won't get easier now. Hey, we're in state, baby."