Carson’s defense comes up big in win
RENO – Two times in a span of one minute, Carson goalie Jose Gonzalez found himself staring down the barrel of a Hug shot, and each time he came away with a big save.
Gonzalez’s two big saves kept the Hawks scoreless in the first 40 minutes, and then Michael Samii and Cristian Hernandez each scored a second-half goal to lead the Senators to a 2-1 upset win Wednesday night at Damonte Ranch High School.
The win sends the Senators into the regional finals against Spanish Springs at noon Saturday at Damonte Ranch. The teams played to a scoreless tie at Carson earlier this year.
“It was a great night tonight,” Carson coach Mehdi Samii said. “Jose played awesome tonight. He kept us in the game. Those two plays in the first half were huge.
“The defense (Zach Smith, Cruz Kerver, Adam Shoaf, Michael Samii and Carlos Alvarado) played well a very good game. I don’t know how many balls Michael headed away and how many times Zach cleared a shot. They all played well.”
Gonzalez’s saves were crucial because the game still was scoreless, and had either of those shots found their way to the back of the net it would have been a completely different game.
“I just kept my eye on the ball,” Gonzalez said. “I just went all out the whole game; gave it my all.”
The first save came against Luis Villanueva from point blank range in the 19th minute. Gonzalez turned back Guillermo Ramirez a minute later to keep the game deadlocked at 0-0.
Eleven minutes later, Francisco Barrios was turned back by Hug goalie John Jiminez.
Hug had a chance to break through in the 34th minute after Alex Gonzalez was fouled in the penalty box, but Jose Monzo-Rodriquez hit the crossbar on the PK.
Hernandez, who didn’t start the game because of a leg injury, ended up having a big impact, according to Samii.
“He changed the game,” Samii said. “He controls the ball and finds the open space. He’s very patient.”
Hernandez was fouled in the penalty box in the 54th minute. Barrios scored, but the attempt was waved off because Barrios didn’t wait for the center referee to blow his whistle.
Samii put his son, Michael, for the second attempt. The senior defender easily knocked it past Jiminez to make it 1-0.
“Michael is very calm,” the elder Samii said. “He’s been practicing PKs in case we have to go to a shootout.”
Four minutes later, Smith carried the ball into the Hug end and passed it to Hernandez, who ran in on it and blasted it past Jiminez for a 2-0 lead.
Hug had another PK several minutes after the Carson goal, but Eduardo Martin hit it over the net. Victor Lara had a good look in the 60th minute, but Gonzalez was equal to the task yet again.
In the 75th minute Hug finally scored when Villanueva scored on a short-side goal. It appeared that Gonzalez misjudged the ball.
“He told me he thought the ball was going out,” coach Samii said. “He misjudged it completely. He told me he was sorry.”
In the final three-plus minutes time seemed to stand still, as Hug had four corner kicks and kept putting the pressure on the Senators before the final whistle sounded.