RENO — A year ago, Galena stopped Carson High’s dream of reaching the state championship, but coach Frank Martinez said that wasn’t played up this week during practice.
“They are a totally different team,” Martinez said. “It hurt (losing to them) because I thought we had a chance to win state last year. We wanted to show them that we were the team to beat this year.”
Thanks to a tremendous defensive effort led by keeper Jose Rodriguez and fullbacks Christian Martinez and Osvaldo Gomez, and goals by Julio Loera, Isael Lopez and Angel Gonzalez, the Senators moved into first place in the Sierra League with a dominating 3-0 win over the Grizzles on Saturday.
Carson moved to 5-1-1 and Galena dropped to 5-2.
“Having Christian and Osvaldo back there and healthy makes us tough,” Martinez said. “They are both solid. Jose came up big time. Once we scored a couple of goals, we just wanted to possess the ball and I think they got discouraged.”
Christian Martinez missed the North Valleys loss because he was on a church retreat, and Gomez was banged up.
Two of Carson’s three goals came in the first half, and both came in an eight-minute span in the latter portion of the first 40 minutes.
Loera scored in the 26th minute, and then Gonzalez scored eight minutes later to make it 2-0.
“Julio sent me the ball, and I juked one guy and then I juked another guy,” Gonzalez said. “I shot the ball and it hit a defender. It hit his shoulder and the ball bounced back to me and I tapped it in. I was missing a bunch of shots before that.”
Then it was Rodriguez’s turn to shine. In the final five minutes, he made three huge stops.
In the 35th minute, he made a sliding stop on a shot by Max Cantor, and 60 seconds later he came up big again, not once but twice.
The Grizzlies were awarded a penalty kick when the center referee ruled that Carson had grabbed a Galena player in the box.
Ricardo Martines drilled a low shot that Rodriguez got a hand on , but wasn’t able to hold. The rebound came out to Nico Flocchini, who was unable to get the ball past a sliding Rodriguez.
Saves don’t get any better than those two.
“When I was in the box, I looked at Efren (Ramirez, last year’s keeper) because he has a lot of experience with penalty kicks,” Rodriguez said. “He told me to go to my left. The ball went out, and I was able to get a hand on it again.
“I just slid. I think it was big because if they would have scored that would have given them confidence.”
Carson had several good attacks in the second half, but couldn’t find the back of the net until the 68th minute when Lopez scored on a long-distance free kick.
Galena had just four shots in the final 40 minutes.
The closest Galena came to scoring is when Rodriguez came out and fell on a through ball before the Grizzlies could get there.
Up next for Carson is Bishop Manogue on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.