By Darrell Moody
Three times the Carson High boys soccer team has been a win away from the state tournament, and each time has come up short.
Last year was especially tough, as Carson was upset by Galena, 1-0, in the zone finals in a shootout (6-5). In 2006, Carson lost to South Tahoe in the zone finals and in 2007 the Vikings knocked off Carson in the zone semifinals.
"It's something we talked about at the start of the year," said Nate Brigham, Carson's second-year head coach, whose team is 1-0 entering tonight's game at Reed. "Every year the past three years we've had a state quality team. We just didn't do what was necessary. In post-season, you have to get it done when it counts.
"The majority of the boys have been around the program long enough to know they have a target on their back. The boys know what they need to do to get the win."
Carson lost some great players in goalie Brandon Briggs and field stars Adam Updegrove, Brady Roser, John Nuthall and Blake Moreland, but Brigham firmly believes that this year's squad can be just as good.
That's because three of his top four defenders - Nate Eng, Jorge Guevara and Luis Aguilar - return from last year's squad. The trio will be joined by Guillermo Alonso.
Brigham doesn't get or particularly need offensive help from his back group because of the 4-5-1 offense he employs.
"When it comes to coaching style, my backs are my backs," Brigham said. "That means they play defense. I have five guys out of the midfield that I can attack with. Not that you won't see George or Nate make a crazy run."
Brian Duran has been moved to center midfield, and he'll team with Luis Camacho, Luis Gonzalez, Uriel Duran and Izzy Lopez, who scored nine goals last season.
Ian Gunn, who scored 11 goals last season, takes Updegrove's center forward slot.
The most pressure could fall to Pedro Chavez and David Yanez, who are fighting for Briggs' old job in goal.
"They are fighting to split time," Brigham said. "With a strong back four, I see us having a number of shutouts in league. We'll miss Brandon for his experience and the way he directed the team."
Carson didn't play in the Galena Tournament which robbed Brigham of an opportunity to see what area schools have to offer this year. He likes Galena, Bishop Manogue and South Tahoe.