RENO — There will be a new state champion crowned next weekend in Las Vegas.
The Carson Senators yielded a goal on Yogi Mendoza’s long direct free kick in the 7th minute of the game, and the Galena Grizzlies held on for a 1-0 win in the NIAA 4A regional title game Saturday afternoon at Damonte Ranch High School.
Galena will be the lone northern Nevada 4A rep at next weekend’s state tournament. Carson ends its season with a 14-5 record.
“It was a battle,” Carson coach Frank Martinez said. “They got a lucky shot. The sun was in Efren’s (Ramirez, CHS keeper) eyes. He played great this season.
“We played a very good game. Three times they beat us. They deserve to go to state. They (Galena) played very well.”
Senior Peter Garrett, who anchored Carson’s defense all season, was understandably disappointed after the game.
“I’m super happy with our season; reaching the regional finals again, but not going to state again is disappointing. It’s something we’ll learn from.
“This could have gone either way. We played our hearts out. That’s what matters.”
Carson had an early corner kick and the Grizzlies misfired on a couple of attempts. That set the stage for the game’s only goal.
Mendoza unloaded a bomb from approximately 30 yards that found the upper right-hand corner of the net.
“I always drive it,” Mendoza said. “I pick a corner, and either somebody gets a header or the ball goes in. I was lucky. Efren (Ramirez) is a good keeper.”
“He has the green light (to do whatever he wants with it),” Galena coach Marco Merlo said. “It looked like Efren wasn’t sure whether it was a cross or shot. It looked like he might have left the (scoring) line. He played lights out after that.”
Ramirez had six official saves, but he grabbed a couple of corner kicks out of the air and made a couple of stops on through balls.
Midway through the first half, Carson had its best chance(s) to score.
Oscar Ventura and Guillermo Hernandez had shots blocked by Galena defenders in the 13th minute, and in the 19th minute a good Carson cross was blocked by a Galena defender.
Carson had another great opportunity in the 22nd minute when Alejandro Gonzalez’s shot under heavy pressure glanced off the right post.
Galena had a good run in the 28th minute, but Garrett made a good defensive play.
The Grizzlies’ defense was stingy in the second half, and their physical play bothered Carson. The Grizzlies appeared to benefit from several non calls.
“We were pushing up quite a bit,” Martinez said. “We were trying to score. I even put three guys up front late in the game.”
In the second half, Carson’s best opportunities were crosses or through balls, but they couldn’t get shots off.
Galena’s defenders did a nice job of clearing balls throughout the game.
Merlo said he was going to give his players 24 hors to enjoy the championship, and then it was back to work.