RENO — The Carson Senators needed some extra time, but they advanced to the NIAA 4A regional championship game for the second straight season.
Alejandro Gonzalez raced down a high through ball from Guillermo Perez and tapped the ball past a diving Hugo Rodriguez to give the Senators a 1-0 overtime victory over the Spanish Springs Cougars Wednesday night at North Valleys High School.
The win sends Carson into the finals against Galena, a 3-0 winner over North Valleys. The Sierra League rivals play Saturday at noon at Damonte Ranch.
It was Carson’s seventh straight post-season win dating back to last season’s playoff run, and it ended Spanish Springs’ 15-match win streak.
Galena beat Carson twice this season — 4-0 on Sept. 24 at Carson, and 2-1 at Galena on Oct. 12.
“It’s a crazy game and like I told the boys, ‘You’ve got to keep your cool and whoever puts it in is going to win,’” Carson coach Frank Martinez said. “I love playing a team that’s beat me twice because I usually don’t lose to them three times. They’re a really good team. It will be a great match.”
The teams ended regulation scoreless, and both had some good scoring chances at various times during the match. In fact, Spanish Springs had a goal wiped out on an offsides call with 10 minutes left in regulation.
Spanish Springs applied some early pressure in the overtime, but was unable to finish.
The game-winner by Gonzalez was Carson’s best opportunity of the extra session, and it came in approximately the eighth minute.
Perez left-footed a high ball over the Spanish Springs defense. Gonzalez was trying to beat Rodriguez to the ball, and he did. Before Rodriguez could get his hands on the ball, Gonzalez tapped it into the goal.
“I saw Guillermo control the ball, and I raised my fist so he could see me and send the ball,” Gonzalez said. “The goalkeeper was coming out already and I actually thought I was going to get laid out.”
“I’ve been wanting him to do more of those,” Martinez said. “I told him to just put it in there.”
Martinez admitted Spanish Springs had the edge in the latter stages of regulation, but thanks to some strong defensive play by Peter Garrett and Christian Martinez, the Senators were able to keep the Cougars scoreless.
“It was a little of both,” Martinez said. “Fatigue and our subs that we put in were a little bit off.”
Spanish Springs’ best two opportunities in the first half came when Efren Ramirez made a diving stop in the 14th minute, and then he deflected a shot by Wilmer Hernandez over the cross bar.
Guillermo Hernandez missed wide twice and Gonzalez lost the ball once in prime scoring position because he waited too long to get off a shot.
The Senators threatened in the opening minute of the second half, but Angel Gonzalez was stopped.
Carson had three or four chances on crosses, but the Senators were unable to get a foot on the ball on any of those plays. It made for a lot of frustration on the bench and on the field.
Spanish Springs’ Court Diesner and Hernandez both had chances to head shots in but failed.
The Cougars had a good run in the 72nd minute and Anibal Gonzales hammered a direct free kick that Ramirez gobbled up in extra time.
The Carson senior wants revenge in a big way.
He would like nothing better than to end his high school career with a second consecutive trip to state.
“I feel we’re going to go out and win,” he said. “We all want to go to state.
“We are going to work as hard as we can.”