CHS, Duran hungry like a wolf, advance to finals
Nevada Appeal Sports Editor
RENO ” For the Carson Senators the setting was eerily the same: Damonte Ranch High School, site of the semifinal round of the NIAA Northern 4A Regional Boys Soccer Championships.
After 110 minutes, the Sierra League champion Senators and their opponent had yet to score a goal and were headed to a shootout.
But this year would be different than 2007, when Carson came up on the wrong side of a 1-0 loss (4-2 in penalty kicks) to South Tahoe.
Senators junior center defender Brian Duran’s penalty kick above the left hand of Wooster senior goalkeeper Christian Galindo cemented a 1-0 victory (3-1 in penalty kicks) over the Colts and vaulted Carson into Saturday’s championship round against Sierra League No. 2 seed Galena.
The Grizzlies took a 1-0 victory over Sierra League No. 4 seed Bishop Manogue in the other semifinal match at Damonte. The winner of the 11 a.m. match will join three Southern teams in Las Vegas in pursuit of the Class 4A state championship next week.
“I was just going crazy,” said Duran, who looked like he was trying to rip off an uncooperative jersey before he disappeared in a pile of white Carson jerseys after his decisive kick. “I didn’t know what to do. I was just happy.”
So was the rest of the Senators, who got an outstanding performance from senior goalkeeper Brandon Briggs, a lockdown performance from its defense and midfield and successful penalty kicks from senior forward Adam Updegrove and senior midfielder Brady Roser.
The victory moved Carson’s record to 16-1-1, while Sierra League No. 3 seed Wooster’s season ended at 13-3-2.
“Our last four games have been 1-0 (Carson), tie, tie, 1-0 (Carson), then this one,” said fourth-year Wooster coach Mike Hammond. “I don’t think either team wanted to give an inch.”
Carson unofficially outshot Wooster 15-8. Galindo notched five saves and Briggs eight headed into the shootout.
Senators senior midfielder John Nuthall went first, but his kick went wide right before Briggs stoned Wooster midfielder Juan Garcia. Updegrove went left to beat Galindo to give the Senators a 1-0 lead in the shootout.
Wooster’s Rendell Chavez missed wide left, but Galindo kept his team in it by stopping Carson’s Cyrill Suter. The Colts tied it 1-1 when Morgan Lemus’ smoker bounced off Briggs’ right hand.
Roser put Carson up 2-1 with a left-footer to the right side and Briggs stepped up big with another save, this one on Alex Sanchez.
“They helped me through it; I thought I might help them right back,” Briggs said of his team’s effort and his own big plays. “I go into PKs without a care in the world. If you think about it, you second-guess yourself.”
He may have looked calm as he buried the game-winner, but Duran said he wasn’t.
“I was nervous. I didn’t want to let the team down,” Duran said. “I wanted to do it for the seniors and for (Senators defender) Luis Aguilar, who played his (butt) off and got hurt. I kept believing, kept my head strong. I picked my side and went with it.”
End of game.
“At this point, moving on is what’s important, not how you do it,” said first-year Carson head coach Nate Brigham. “Last year was last year. I told my players this is this year. We knew coming out tonight based on our previous matches with Wooster that it would be a physical game. We knew one goal would win this game. They are a quality team.”
Carson had a great opportunity ” make that three opportunities ” to put the game away in the first overtime.
The Senators were set up with an indirect kick from eight yards out, with all 11 Colts strung out across their own net. Roser’s kick walked along the crossbar, but Wooster was called for a handball on the play, giving Carson another chance.
Roser’s next shot went off the post, but Galindo was yellow-carded and the Senators had yet another opportunity up close and personal. But Nuthall’s shot went high and the Colts escaped unscathed.
“The first two (shots), (the Colts) moved forward, moved forward before the ball was touched,” Brigham said. “The third time (the ball went) over. It’s difficult with 11 players lined up in front of the goal. There’s not a lot to shoot at. They were playing back in the right spots. I was disappointed we couldn’t put the ball in from eight yards out.”
Though they got more shots off than the Colts did, the Senators were often faced with up to 10 Wooster players back in the defensive zone.
Brigham said the Colts appeared to be playing for a shootout.
“Their keeper was wasting time,” Brigham said. “Those were the tactics of someone who wanted to go to penalty kicks. When you got to penalty kicks, anything can happen. The better team doesn’t always win in penalty kicks.”
Hammond denied that was the case.
“We would never do that,” he said. “We hate penalty kicks. Every coach wants to win the game on the field. Until someone comes up with a better means to win the game, we have to live with penalty kicks.”
Hammond credited Galindo, a natural striker, for stepping into the keeper role and sacrificing his senior season to play in the unfamiliar position. Hammond also said it was no accident that Wooster has become a contender in the North.
“There’s a core group of players that started together,” he said. “We started from the ground up with a bunch of freshmen that played well. They’ve been together four years now. They got beat up pretty bad their first year as freshmen on the varsity squad. But they’ve grown together. They’ve been through four years of tough, tough times. As seniors, it was their time to shine. We did.”
The same could be said for a large group of Senators.
Brian Duran, Izzy Lopez, Jorge Guevara, Christian Armas, Aguilar, Uriel Duran, Nate Eng, Updegrove and Nuthall have all grown up playing together and are now on the cusp of advancing to the state championships.
Carson and Galena split their two games this season, with both teams winning 2-0 at home.
“We’re going to just focus on our next game ” nothing else,” Brian Duran said as Galena and Manogue took the field. “We’re going to do what we do best ” that’s play our best.”
And sometimes, even in shootouts, Carson’s best is good enough.
Note: Aguilar was injured during the second overtime and was carried off the field by Brigham. A Wooster player was red-carded on the play.
“It was a cheap slide-tackle from behind,” Brigham said of the play that injured Aguiar’s right ankle. “We don’t think it’s broken, but he’s questionable for Saturday. He’s a big part of why we’re here.”