HENDERSON --When the final whistle sounded, some Carson players cried, others dropped to their knees in frustration and others walked to the bench with a look of disappointment on their face.
The soccer season for Carson High's boys team ended with a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Green Valley in the NIAA Division I state semifinals Friday afternoon at Heritage Park.
Carson, under first-year head coach Mehdi Samii, finished 10-5-5. Samii, who showed some frustration during the match by his team's inability to muster a consistent offense, was nonetheless pleased with the overall outcome of the season.
"I thoroughly enjoyed every single minute of the season," Samii said after a short talk with his team. "I looked forward to coming to practice every day to be with these kids. This was a great group of kids to work with."
Carson was a team that thrived on its defense, and on this day, the Senators may have met their match. There seemed to be 20 Gator defenders on he field.
Everywhere Carson turned, there was a Gator defender in the way.
"They were just stopping our attack," junior defender Adam Shoaf said. "They weren't giving us any chance for them to make a mistake."
"They shut off the long ball," added senior defender Cruz Kerver.
The Gators shut off everything. Carson unofficially had eight shots on goal, but none were super close.
The Carson players admitted that Green Valley was probably the best defensive team it had played all year.
"They play a different style," Samii said. "That was a physical team. We got pushed off some balls."
Samii said that Green Valley's physical play may have taken its toll on his players. And, some of Carson's players rely on finesse and speed, and not strength to get the job done both offensively and defensively.
Green Valley put pressure on Carson from the outset. The Gators played with the wind in the opening half, and put it to good advantage.
Each time the Gators had a throw-in, Bryan Baugh had enough strength to throw the ball into the penalty box area, but Carson defenders Zach Smith, Kerver or Michael Samii seemed to always be there to head it out or kick it out of trouble.
Unofficially, Green Valley outshot Carson 7-3 in the opening 40 minutes.
In the second half, Carson actually had an early 4-2 lead in shots, but none were close to resulting in a goal.
The scoreless tie was broken in the 54th minute when Ivan Rodriquez sliced one off the side of his foot past Carson's Jose Gonzalez.
That seemed to shake Carson out of its reverie. All of a sudden, the Senators seemed to realize where the Green Valley goal was.
In the 55th minute, Cristian Hernandez made a nice center to Nathan King, who was unable to get a shot off. In the 61st minute, Carson had a nice run which didn't result in a shot attempt.
Shortly after that, the Senators failed on their best chance in the game.
Kerver was just a few yards from the goal, but was unable to get off a clean shot.
"I just couldn't get it over the goalie," Kerver said. "He was standing right in front of me.
"We finally started to pick up some intensity after they scored their goal. We realized we needed to push it."
Carson had a couple of good looks down the stretch, but was unable to finish.
"We didn't get it to Cristian enough tonight and we didn't get it to Francisco (Barrios) enough tonight," Samii said. "When we did get it to them, they had two or three defenders to deal with.
"We didn't finish. Our crosses weren't very good. They had a good defense."
Green Valley plays Bishop Gorman at 10 a.m. today. Bishop Gorman defeated Eldorado 3-1 in the other semifinal.