RENO - All season long, Michelle Sandage has been a key cog in the Carson High offense.
And on Saturday, the talented Sandage came up big again with two goals to lead the Senators to a 2-1 overtime win over Reno on Saturday afternoon in the Division I championship match at Damonte Ranch High School.
The win gives Carson (16-1-2) its second straight regional title. Carson will play a yet to be determined opponent Friday at either 4 or 6 p.m. at Heritage Park in Henderson. The Southern Nevada schools still are concluding their regional playoffs.
The game was tied at 1 after 80 minutes of action which sent the game into overtime.
Sandage tallied the game-winner in the 13th minute of the first overtime period. Her first goal came in the 61st minute.
"A shot went off a defensive player and rolled back to me and I slid it past the goalie," said Sandage, who may be the most physical player in Northern Nevada which sometimes has gotten her in trouble.
Both Sandage and Kenzie Tillitt, the two best offensive players on the team, received yellow cards midway through the second half with Carson trailing 1-0. The cards came right after each other.
Sandage said the time on the sideline helped.
"I was out about five minutes," said Sandage. "It made me calm down. When I came back in that's when I scored. Kenzie shot it past the defender and the goalie came out and I had an open net to shoot at."
"It gave us an opportunity to talk to them about what was going on," Carson coach Greg Lehman. "It was helpful."
Reno's Michele Whan had a free kick in the 63rd minute, but Carson keeper Emmy Heller was able to deflect the ball away. In the 74th minute, Tillitt misfired on a free kick. In stoppage time Mayra Olivares' shot was turned away by Reno's Taylee Weight.
"I thought the second half we pretty much dominated," Sandage said. "We settled down after their goal."
Early in the overtime, Carson got a real scare when Reno played a through ball. Heller's kick went off a Reno player and she was able to scoop the ball up and kick it downfield.
Reno never threatened after that, and Carson ended it several minutes later.
"Reno is a good team," Lehman said. "They weren't going to back down. They had been improving all season. They had momentum going. We knew they were going to be a tough team."
Reno, in fact, had the upper hand in the final 30 minutes of the first half after Carson dominated the first 10 minutes.
After Morgan Beye misfired in the 10th and 14th minute, Eleanor Small scored in the 17th minute. It was her fourth goal of the postseason.
That would be Reno's last score, and it wasn't enough to hold off the Senators.
Lehman said it didn't bother him, not knowing anything about his upcoming opponent. He said his team's strategy has been to play one game at a time.
Sandage said the team will be better focused this year after being upset by Pahrump which only had to beat Faith Lutheran to make the playoffs. This is the first year where fall soccer includes all the Southern Nevada schools.
"We were frustrated after last year," Sandage said. "It was Pahrump, and we thought we were going to win easy. We're not going to do that this year. Vegas is strong."
RENO - It took 80 minutes of regulation play, two 15-minute overtime periods and a shootout for Carson High to claim its first boys regional soccer title since 2004 Saturday afternoon at Damonte Ranch High School.
Cristian Hernandez calmly deposited a penalty shot in the left-hand corner of the net to give the Senators a 2-1 win over Spanish Springs. Carson (10-4-5) won the shootout 5-3, converting all five of its attempts after the game was tied at 1 after 110 minutes of play.
"This is fantastic being this team's coach," said first-year Carson coach Mehdi Samii, who came to Carson after previously coaching at Bishop Manogue. "This is a team without an ego. They play well together.
"I don't like it (going to a shootout). The other team has a lot of fantastic kids. They should let us play until somebody scores a goal. That's the way to end it."
Spanish Springs' Marshall Andrew scored its goal in the 23rd minute, and Carson knotted the game at 1 in the 67th minute on a goal by Zach Smith. Neither team could find the back of the net over the next 43 minutes, forcing the shootout.
Michael Samii got Carson off to a good start by putting a shot in the right corner against Omar Trujillo. Emmanuel Medina missed badly to the right against Jose Gonzalez, putting the Cougars into a quick hole. Francisco Barrios made it 2-0 when he found the back of the net with a low liner. Jon Garcia made it 2-1 when he beat Gonzalez to the left side.
Mario Escalante made it 3-1 when he went high right past Trujillo. Julio Soto missed for the Cougars, but was given a second chance when Gonzalez moved too far off the line. He went high right the second time to make it 3-2. Smith made it 4-2 when he snuck one in the left-hand corner. Chance Callister converted to make it 4-3, and Hernandez ended things when he pounded one into the left corner for the game-winner.
The conversion sent the Carson players streaming onto the field and the rooting section into hysterics.
"After Zach's shot was good I knew I had all the pressure on me," Hernandez said. "I never really switch. I just go to my best side.
"We had trouble getting past Spanish Springs defenders (for a while). We finally did it."
And, Hernandez had a hand in that, too.
The speedy forward bounced one to Smith in the 67th minute. It seemed like it would be tough to get off a kick off the high-bouncing ball, but the CHS star defender managed to get it past Trujillo.
"I was looking for the ball there," Smith said. "I like being in the air when I make any shot. I knew this was going to be a tough game. We tied 0-0 the last time, I knew it was going to be a good all-around game."
Spanish Springs' Medina and Soto had good looks toward the end of regulation, but were unable to score.
In the first overtime, Adam Shoaf crossed the ball to Nathan King, whose header went over the crossbar. Carson continued to apply the pressure in the second 15-minute overtime but to no avail. The Cougars' Trujillo knocked away a nice cross in the ninth minute of the second overtime.
That set the stage for the always thrilling shootout.
The three other teams which will join Carson in Henderson on Friday won't be determined until Monday.