In an instant, more than 100 minutes of frustration came to an end for the Carson High boys soccer team.
Abel Sanchez scored on a free kick from 27 yards about three minutes into the second sudden death 15-minute overtime to give Carson a 2-1 win over Spanish Springs in the first round of the Northern Division I playoffs Thursday at the Jim Frank Track and Field Complex.
Carson advanced to the semifinals in which it will play North Valleys, a 1-0 winner over Douglas, at 2 p.m. Saturday at North Valleys. In the other semifinal, Wooster, a 5-1 winner over McQueen, will play Galena, a 1-0 winner over Hug, at 6 p.m. Saturday at North Valleys.
The Senators were in a battle for their playoff lives through 80 minutes of regulation, which ended in a 1-1 tie, 15 minutes of the first sudden death overtime and the early minutes of the second overtime when Sanchez scored his game-winner.
Sanchez outguessed the Spanish Springs goalie, who had frustrated CHS throughout the game, on his game-winner. Sanchez and Brian Llamas lined up next to each other, giving Sanchez the option to run at the ball, then to have Llamas to follow to take the kick.
The Spanish Springs goalie saw how Sanchez and Llamas lined up; thinking the shot would go to his left began yelling “left, left, left” and cheated to his left. Sanchez went on to bend his shot past the Spanish Springs wall and into the side of the net vacated by the Spanish Springs goalie.
“That’s the only thing that I heard,” said Sanchez about the Spanish Springs goalie repeating his left call.
“He has had a few goals this season from direct kicks like that,” Carson coach Mike Alvarez said. “The key is he’s able to bend the ball past the wall.”
And all that matter for Carson is it survived and advanced.
“I feel at this point winning is a great thing,” said Alvarez, making that point. “The dynamics of the playoffs makes everybody try harder and give it their best. It kind of evens the playing field.”
The Senators also needed a spectacular save by goalie Efren Ramirez, who stretched as high as he could, to punch the ball over the crossbar to preserve a 1-1 tie in the second half.
“That was an incredible save that he had,” Alvarez said. “A great reaction.”
Carson came out like it was going to put away the Cougars early. Guillermo Hernandez-Galvan sent a perfect pass ahead to Rogelia Herrera, who from the side, appeared to have sent a perfectly angled shot that bounced off the bottom of the crossbar.
Another excellent chance came when Christian Martinez sent a perfectly placed pass ahead to Sanchez in the goal box. Sanchez took the ball with his head in midair and sent a header that also bounced off the crossbar.
The Senators took a 1-0 lead off of a counter attack when Sanchez sent a ball ahead to Guillermo Perez-Morris, who sent the ball into the opposite corner of the net. Spanish Springs forced a 1-1 halftime tie when it scored into an open net.
“I obviously feel we had a lot more opportunities than they did, especially at the beginning the the game,” Alvarez said.
Carson also was able to survive with leading scorer Herrera dealing with a sore hip and then a cramping leg. He had to come out with a sore hip in the first half and, after returning, had to leave again after cramping up in overtime. Alvarez said Herrera should be OK for Saturday.
Another big reason why the Senators survived was the continued solid defensive play of Peter Garrett, who was a big reason why the game stayed at 1-1 going into overtime.