Carson girls soccer jumps into semifinals
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – The weather was more fitting for Eskimos, but it didn’t seem to faze the Carson Senators girls’ soccer team.
The unbeaten Senators got a goal in the 8th minute from speedy Brandi Vega and added a second-half score by Danielle Benamati to post a 2-0 win over Elko in the opening round of the NIAA 4A playoffs on a cold and windy Wednesday night at Galena High.
The victory propelled the top-ranked Senators into a semifinal game against McQueen Saturday at 2 p.m. at Carson High School.
“I’m happy with the way we played considering the field conditions,” Carson coach Randy Roser said. “It’s a football field. It’s 20 yards too narrow for us. We have to play like everybody else does. We’ll do much better on Saturday.
“They (McQueen) are very organized on defense and they have a little speed on defense. They will be tough.”
The narrowness of the field nullifies some of the speedier Carson players like Vega and Kayla Sanchez. A narrow field makes it difficult to control the ball and play it outside in. Defenders don’t have to go nearly as far or work nearly as hard to defend Carson.
Vega showed off some of that impressive speed to give Carson an early goal, one which looked like it would stand up at the time. Cassie Bowman lofted a little through ball over the head of the Elko defense, and Vega did the rest, outracing two defenders and easily beating the Elko keeper.
“Cassie just chipped it over their heads and I just ran to it,” Vega said. “That’s how we usually do it. The wind affected us a little bit. You can’t get (high) balls through. You’ve got to keep it low. The balls weren’t going anywhere (against the wind).”
It was Carson’s best scoring opportunity of its four shots on goal. Elko had five shots on goal, but none were what you would consider good scoring chances.
That goal was actually one more than Roser expected in the first half. The veteran Carson coach elected to go into the wind the first half, and he admitted he hoped his offense would get untracked in the second half when the wind was in its favor.
The Senators did a better job offensively in the second half, especially in the first seven minutes when they had three good scoring chances, two by Benamati. The second shot by Benamati went well over the crossbar from about 18 yards. Bowman had a good opportunity in the 46th minute when she tried to beat the Elko goalie to the short side, but couldn’t get enough on the kick.
Benamati finally broke through for a goal in the 59th minute off a direct kick by Sammy Valerius, who lofted a kick toward the middle of the penalty box area, and Benamati timed it perfectly, let it hit the ground, and headed the ball past the Elko keeper for the game’s final goal.
“When Sam kicks the ball, I’m supposed to sprint full speed toward the goal,” Benamati said. “We didn’t practice it (during the regular season). Coach (Roser) just told us to do it.”
Roser said he put the play in just for the zone playoffs.
“We did practice it just before zone,” the Carson coach said. “Elko likes to hold its line (on those kicks). They don’t have anybody to stay with Danielle and the speed she has. If we’d done it earlier (in the year) everybody would know what we were doing.”
It was obvious Elko didn’t know what Benamati planned to do, because the Indians didn’t send a defender with her when she started racing in from close to midfield. The play was picture perfect, and Benamati showed great timing when she caught up with the ball.
With a two-goal bulge and Elko having to play into the wind, the game was over for all practical purposes. The Senators’ defense, led by Valerius, allowed only three shots on goal in the second half. Elko’s best opportunity came in the final minute of the contest and rolled wide right past reserve goalie Brittany DeRosa, who played the final 15 minutes in place of Alli Otto.
“Sammy is tough,” Roser said. “She has to be one of the top defenders in Northern Nevada. She’s been all-conference the last couple of years. Everybody knows here.”
And no doubt she’ll introduce herself to McQueen early on Saturday.