Carson, Galena meet for zone crown
The Carson High boys soccer team certainly benefitted from what was essentially an extra day off heading into today’s Northern 4A championship game.
With the boys semifinals being played on Wednesday and the girls semifinals being played on Thursday, the Senators had two days to recuperate instead of just one from Wednesday’s dramatic win over Wooster.
And today’s finals against Galena at 11 a.m. at Damonte Ranch could be dramatic as well. The Grizzlies advanced to today’s final with a 1-0 win over Manogue and will play Carson for the right to play in next week’s NIAA 4A State Championships in Las Vegas
Carson battled Wooster to a scoreless tie through regulation and two overtime periods before beating the Colts on penalty kicks 3-1. Brady Roser and Adam Updegrove made their penalty kicks before Brian Duran also made his to send the Senators to the finals.
Carson also received a brillant effort from goalie Brandon Briggs in the shootout. Since Briggs posted the shutout through regulation and the overtimes, he was credited with his 31st career shutout, padding his state record total.
“We took it pretty light on Thursday,” Carson coach Nate Brigham said. “In fact we didn’t even get balls out.”
But on Friday the Senators were ready to work on their game plan for Galena. “We’re all fit and ready to go,” Brigham said.
The two teams split their meetings this season as both clubs won at home 2-0. In the first meeting at Galena, the Senators were without Briggs and midfielder John Nuthall and to be frank, were physically beaten up by the Grizzlies. Briggs and Nuthall were serving a one-game suspension after receiving red cards.
In the second meeting at Carson, the Senators did a much better job handling Galena’s physical style with both Briggs and Nuthall back in the lineup.
But Galena didn’t just beat Carson in the first game with its physical style. “They beat us in the midfield,” said Brigham about the Grizzlies taking advantage of Nuthall’s absence.
And there could be cause for concern today because the Senators may be without defender Luis Aguilar, who was injured against Wooster. Brigham said all Aguilar could do on Friday was jog and that he would be a gametime decision.
Carson still has Duran, Nate Eng, Nik Marsh and Jorge Guevara back on defense, but if Aguilar can’t go that means Nuthall may have to drop back on defense as well, possibly leaving Carson vulnerable in the midfield.
“That was our focus, making sure we control the midfield,” said Brigham about Friday’s practice.
Both teams are strong defensively so today’s game figures to be a defensive battle. “This is a game that’s probably going to be won 1-0,” Brigham said. “They are a very strong defensive team and don’t allow a lot of goals. One mistake could cost us a trip to Vegas.”
But Brigham has confidence in his defenders no matter who’s in the back. And for good reason.
Carson has only given up five goals all season, with two of the goals coming against Galena. “They’ve all be solid for us all year,” Brigham said.
And the Senators obviously won’t to keep a streak alive in which they haven’t allowed a goal in regulation or overtime play all season when they were wearing their home white uniforms. As the higher seed, Carson will again be in white today.
Another concern for Brigham is Galena’s long throw-ins. The Grizzlies can put the ball in the goal box on throw-ins from as far as 35 yards away and Galena likes to stack the box with five to six players off those throw-ins.
Brigham said his team must be diligent in marking all of Galena’s players off of those throw-ins. “They’ve got a very dangerous long throw-in,” Brigham said.
Among others who will lead Carson offensively include Blake Moreland and Izzy Lopez.