Senators through to semis
Carson High lost the possession war Monday night, but won the game.
Francisco Barrios scored in extra time in the first half and added a goal on a penalty kick in the 72nd minute to lead Carson High to a 2-0 win over visiting McQueen in the opening round of the NIAA Division I boys soccer playoffs.
The win carried Carson into a semifinal match-up with Hug at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Damonte Ranch. At 4 p.m. Wooster, a 4-1 winner over Reno, will play Spanish Springs, a 1-0 winner over Galena, in the other semifinal at Damonte.
Carson knocked off Hug, 2-1, at home earlier this year, and coach Mehdi Samii thinks that will help his team entering the semis.
“I think it will help the boys,” Samii said. “They know they can play with anybody. It will be tough like today’s game. Hug is very physical. They’re a good team.”
“We’ve had our troubles with them before,” said defender Zach Smith. “We need to come in ready to play; need to be strong.”
Carson certainly can’t be tentative like it was most of the first half against McQueen, who played the Senators to a scoreless tie earlier this year.
“It’s the playoffs,” Samii said. “We played real tight. We played our style of soccer, but we weren’t able to maintain possession. They are a very fast team and extremely good with the pass.”
Carson outshot McQueen 6-1 in the first half. The Senators were the more aggressive team in the opening 40 minutes, constantly trying to push forward. The Lancers seemed content to move the ball between the 20-yard-lines.
The game, however, remained scoreless until the waning seconds of the opening half. A ball was played toward the middle, and diminutive Mario Escalante chipped the ball to Barrios, who beat a diving Jaime Virrey-Solorio for a goal and a 1-0 lead.
“Mario popped it in, and the keeper came out trying to slide (and make the stop) and I just kicked it by him,” Barrios said.
McQueen seemed to pick up the pace in the second half, and actually outshot the Senators 5-1 in the final 40 minutes.
The Lancers’ best scoring opportunity came in the 51st minute when Jose Gonzalez made a diving stop on a shot by Jon Zarate.
In the 72nd minute, Carson’s Cristian Hernandez was dragged down in the penalty box. Barrios was selected to take the PK, and he easily converted for the 2-0 lead.
McQueen appeared to have scored in the 78th minute, but the header attempt hit the inside of the crossbar but never crossed the line. The McQueen coaches argued to no avail.
Samii praised the play of his back line, though he told the team in the post-game meeting that they had allowed too many through balls.
“We left a lot of open spots and they found them,” Smith said. “They are a good team. I felt it would be a good game. We were nervous a little bit.”