Carson boys soccer ‘Good’ enough to knock off South Tahoe
Brian Arce has seen some good times and tough times while playing varsity soccer at Carson High School these past four years. None have been better than Tuesday night when the Senators battled their way to a 1-0 victory against top-seeded South Tahoe in the Northern 4A Regional Tournament semifinals.
Royal Good converted a penalty kick after a hand ball call in the 48th minute and Carson’s smothering defense made the score stand as the Senators knocked off the defending regional and state champion Vikings before an estimated crowd of 500 at Carson High.
For Carson (11-5-3), this is the biggest boys soccer win since 1998, when the Senators swept through the Northern 4A tournament as a No. 4 seed and then went on to win the state championship. For Arce, it was easily the biggest win since he came up to varsity as a freshman in 2001.
Perhaps that explains why, when the final whistle blew, he took the game ball at midfield and ran over to throw it into the Carson crowd.
“The players, coaches and fans are all part of this. We’re playing, but we need support from the crowd, too,” the senior defender said. “We’ve never been able to get past the first round, and last year, we didn’t even get to the playoffs at all. Now, we want to win the championship for everybody.”
Carson now must face arch rival Douglas in the regional final Saturday at noon at Carson, with the winner advancing to the four-team NIAA 4A State Tournament next week in Las Vegas. Douglas was a 2-0 victor over Wooster in the other semifinal on Tuesday night.
The Senators are 7-1-3 since ending a three-game losing streak on Sept. 28.
“We’re just happy to be here,” Carson coach Jason Koop said. “Anytime you play a quality team like South Tahoe and come out 1-0, that’s very exciting.”
For South Tahoe (18-2-1), it was obviously a disappointing finish after sweeping to the state championship without ever losing a game last year.
“Coach Koop said, and I said, it was going to come down to who makes the first mistake, and that’s what it was. One mistake,” said South Tahoe coach Chris DeLeon, whose Vikings beat Carson twice by 1-0 scores during the regular season. “We knew it was going to come down to who made the first mistake. It just turned out that it went against us.”
Arce started the game’s pivotal play after a foul when he placed a free kick in front of the net. The Vikings cleared the ball back outside, but Loren Wooldridge gathered in the ball at the top of the box and fired a shot. Good redirected the ball past goalkeeper Alfredo Solorio. Then, as the ball bounced toward the goal line and struck the left hand of South Tahoe defender Jason DeBacker.
The whistle blew, Carson was awarded a penalty kick, and Good drove a low liner into the left corner of the net.
“Royal did a good job,” Koop said of the junior forward. “It was a pressure situation and he stepped up and put the ball in the back of the net.
“And it was the right call. I’m not sure I would call it a mistake, either, because the ball was going in. The kid made the right play.”
That proved to be enough on a night when Carson outshot the Vikings 17-8. The Senators were without regular center midfielder Julio Deleon, who was out with a knee injury and replaced by Jeremiah Schenzel.
“Jeremiah stepped into that spot and played a great game … so did Zach Weismann,” Koop said.
Don’t forget the back line of Kevin Brush and Arce in the middle, flanked by Mats Boehnke and Chris Thorson on the outside, with Jose Aguilar coming off the bench to contribute valuable minutes.
“Those five are really working well together,” Koop said. “Brian and Kevin are tough in the middle, Kevin is especially good when it comes to getting the ball in the air. And Chris was really solid tonight, especially in the second half.”
Arce made two noteworthy plays near the midway mark of the first half when South Tahoe appeared to be gaining offensive momentum. First, he took the ball away from South Tahoe standout forward Corey Vermillion in a one-on-one situation inside the box, then two minutes later, with two Vikings converging on the ball inside the box, he cleared it out of danger.
Arce was quick to share the credit, though.
“Our defense has been strong, but it’s not just the defense. It’s the offense and goalkeeper, too. Everybody counts,” he said.
Carson goalkeeper Bud Kop finished with four saves, the best being his last when he came out to break up a shot in the box by Vermillion. The junior made a similar play in the second minute when he came out to smother a ball in front of the charging Vermillion.
Solorio had six saves for South Tahoe.
“Both defenses are very good,” Koop said. “Trying to bust through them is very difficult.”
Coming in, DeLeon knew the Vikings would have a fight on their hands to repeat as regional and state champions.
“It was going to be very difficult because everybody is gunning for our heads. There was a big bullseye on our backs, stomachs, heads, legs, everything,” he said. “It definitely goes to show what the Sierra League is and how strong the league is.
“Carson did a great job and I wish them the best of luck,” he added, referring to the regional final on Saturday.
Notes … A glance at the statistics showed 30 fouls were called – 18 against Carson, 12 against South Tahoe; and there were five yellow cards – three against Carson, two against South Tahoe. Carson outshot South Tahoe 7-3 in the first half, 10-4 in the second half.
Contact Dave Price at email@example.com or call 881-1220.