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A look back at the 2015 Carson High boys soccer state title

Carson High boys soccer remembers legendary wars with Wooster en route to state title in 2015

By Carter Eckl ceckl@nevadaappeal.com

It’s been five years since the Carson High boys soccer team put together its storybook postseason run to win a state title in 2015.

Even half a decade later, many of the former Senator players admitted the 2-1 overtime win over Wooster in the state title game feels like yesterday.

“Man, there is so much to that season,” laughed then-defensive captain Peter Garrett.

The postseason alone was a season all to itself.

Every Senator fan in attendance on that brisk Saturday afternoon in November of 2015 remembers Abel Sanchez’s curling free kick winner that found the upper left corner in golden goal overtime, walking the Senators off with a title.

Leading into the postseason

The Senators went 12-3-1 in the 2015 regular season with two of three losses coming to an undefeated and senior-laden Wooster squad.

Prior to the first regular season meeting with the Colts, Carson kicked off the season with a 6-0 record.

In that early stretch the Senators picked up wins in dominating fashion with results of 6-0, 5-0 and 4-0 in three of the first four games.

Sophomore goalkeeper Efren Ramirez had five shutouts over the course of the regular season.

Ramirez was one of several sophomores in the starting lineup for Carson, including three other underclassmen starting on the back line.

“We had a lot of young, natural talent,” said Osvaldo Gomez, who was a sophomore defensemen in ’15. “We had really good chemistry.”

However, after the furious start Carson went just 3-3 over its next six contests including two losses to the Wooster squad it would meet again twice in the postseason.

The two losses to the Colts came by a 4-3 margin in which the Senators battled back from a 3-0 deficit and a 2-1 loss on the Colts’ home field in the middle of October.

When regionals rolled around for the zone title in early November, every single member of the Carson team knew where the road was headed.

“I remember Wooster was pretty solid,” said then assistant, but now head coach Frank Martinez. “We were pretty young. Most of the guys were sophomores.”

Martinez, who had coached a majority of the team on club teams since their youth, was the tactician behind the Senators’ setup throughout the season alongside head coach Michael Alvarez, before Martinez became the head coach in 2016.

“From the very beginning we knew we had talent,” said Garrett. “Our main goal was regionals.”

Overcoming the Colts in all conditions

The Senators barely got through their opening regional playoff game.

Carson needed double OT in order to squeak past Spanish Springs by a 2-1 final.

Four days later, the boys in blue beat North Valleys for the second time that season behind another shutout from Ramirez, to secure a regional final contest against the Colts.

Coming into that regional final, Wooster sat with a flawless 17-0 record and had only given up four goals in 15 contests to opponents not named Carson.

Despite two losses, the Senators had produced four goals of their own in the two meetings prior to the regional final.

“Toward the end of the season it got really intense,” said Christian Martinez, who was a sophomore defender. “When we beat them that first time, it was pretty crazy.”

The regional/zone final between the Northern Nevada rivals came with an even bigger twist than most were expecting – snow.

With volunteers running to scrape off boundary lines and clear the field, Carson and Wooster both weren’t sure the regional final would even be played.

“It was a blizzard,” said Gomez. “I honestly thought it was going to get rescheduled. Then, we heard the game was still on. We played literally in an inch or two inches of snow. … I’ve never played in any condition like that.”

Coach Martinez said he remembers Wooster not wanting to play as snow continued to fall from the sky.

Out of the delayed start, Carson used its ball control and possession to hand the Colts their first loss of the season, by a 2-1 margin in the regional final.

“They were extremely mad that they had lost to us in the regionals,” said Christian Martinez. “You could tell Wooster really wanted it and they had a ton of chances.”

The win gave Carson the top seed in the state tournament, which was held in Northern Nevada that season.

In the first round of the state tournament, Carson battled with Las Vegas’ Cimarron-Memorial and the Senators won 2-0, leading to one final meeting between the Senators and the Colts.

Fourth time is a charm

Fans and students in attendance for the state title game remember it vividly.

Due to snow buildup on the sides of the field, both fan bases were stuck in the same set of bleachers on one side of the field.

“It was one of the most surreal moments, it was like walking into a sea of red,” said Bethany Perez-Morris, the mother of then-sophomore defender Guillermo Perez-Morris. “It was a rough game. Both sides were pushing and hitting as hard as possible.”

Coach Martinez echoed the sentiment after three meetings with the Colts.

“I thought they were the strongest team in the north that year,” Martinez said.

Even so, Carson notched the first goal on an Abel Sanchez free kick from just outside the box.

It wasn’t the only impactful moment of the opening 40 minutes as the Colts had a player sent off with a red card, leaving Wooster with 10 men for the rest of the contest.

However, Martinez and company thought Wooster played harder once they went a man down.

The Senators continued to keep the Colts off the scoreboard for a majority of the second half, despite being significantly outshot, according to Martinez.

Just as the sidelines began to sniff the possibility of a championship, Wooster knotted the final game of the season at 1-1 in the final few minutes of regulation, forcing OT.

Prior to the overtime period starting, Martinez had one directive for his young team – “Give it to the midfielders, have them dribble and let them (Wooster) take you down.”

His strategy worked as four minutes into overtime, Senator midfielder Alejandro Gonzalez dribbled through two Colt defenders before getting fouled just outside the box.

The ensuing free kick saw Sanchez and Guillermo Hernandez setup behind the ball from about 23 yards away from net, with their backs to the Carson sideline.

Hernandez ran over the ball before Sanchez used his right foot to curl a shot up over the four-man Wooster wall and into the top left corner.

“(Sanchez is a) really good free kick shooter. We knew if he had the chance, he would put it in,” said Frank Martinez. “The goalie knew he was going to shoot it, but he put it in the top left corner.”

Posted by Chinuda Mata on Saturday, November 14, 2015

As the jam-packed stands erupted, the Senator bench ran onto the field to celebrate while the Colts watched in defeat.

“Everything kind of stopped and we were like no way we actually just did this,” said Christian Martinez.

The walk-off winner from Sanchez gave the Senators their first boys state soccer title since 1998 and as of today, it still stands as the last team sport to win a state title at Carson High.

“It was the most exciting game I’ve ever seen in high school,” said Frank Martinez. “Unfortunately, no one recorded it.”

Technical issues meant – as far as Carson High is aware – there is no video recording of that momentous contest.

However, if you take the time to ask any player, coach or parent about that particular season, it won’t take long for the memories to come flying in.

Carson handed Wooster its only two losses that season and of the 13 goals the Colts gave up that year eight were scored by a player wearing Senator royal blue.

Several members of that Carson team went on to play collegiate soccer, but it’s not hard for any of them to reminisce to their high school days.

“It’s just crazy to think about,” said Ramirez. “We still talk about it all the time. I just can’t believe it sometimes, honestly.”