Senator boys soccer survives Hug behind excellent goalkeeping and a ‘hail mary’
For two consecutive years Carson High boys soccer had seen its season conclude at the hands of the Hug Hawks.
Wednesday night, it was the Senators turn to storm the field as the blue and white picked up a 1-0 win to advance into the 4A Northern Region semifinals.
“We broke the curse. It’s huge. We always battle with them,” said Carson head coach Francisco Martinez. “To get over the hump, it’s just a weight off my back. It feels really good.”
The win means Carson will not only get another home game, but the Senators are now one win away from qualifying for the state soccer tournament.
It’ll be a tall task for the Senators as they’ll take on unbeaten Spanish Springs (12-0-3) Thursday at 4 p.m.
Even in enjoying the win, Martinez said the Senators don’t get to celebrate long.
“No way. We’re just going to the next one,” said Martinez. “I’m glad it’s going to be here.”
Breaking the tie
The lone goal of the contest came in the 49th minute, described aptly by Martinez as a ‘hail mary.’
Saeed Mobaligh received a drop pass from a teammate and lofted the ball just inside the 18-yard box.
Omar Mora leaped and flicked the ball forward with his head and onto the foot of Jose Godinez, who got just enough of it to get it past Hug keeper Isaac Guzman after he got a hand on the shot.
The ball didn’t even reach the back netting as Godinez and the Senator attacking crew celebrated their way past the Carson bench and home sideline.
“In the playoffs you just have to get it in,” said Martinez. “I knew it was a hail mary, which I didn’t like, but a goal is a goal. If it gets in the box, you never know.”
The goal came after a number of Hug opportunities that couldn’t quite find the back of the net.
Inside of the opening minute, Carson turned the ball over and gave the Hawks a break at goal.
Hug put the initial shot off the side post before taking the rebound chance and lifting the ensuing shot over the crossbar.
Carson goalie Leonardo Barajas Mejorado never let the Hawks get that close again.
Mejorado posted saves on Hawk chances in the 25th and 29th to keep the game level, going into the halftime break.
“I just came out with more confidence,” said Mejorado. “I wanted it … I just really wanted it. I don’t know what else to say.
“We were a little nervous, but we got it all out in the first half,” Mejorado said.
The Senators nearly got on the board in the final seconds of the opening half when a Hawk defender nearly cleared the ball into his own net.
Instead, Carson settled for a corner kick which was cleared away.
After ducking the initial wave to open the game, Carson’s defense settled in and kept the Hawks out of the danger areas until late in the second half as the Hawks started to add pressure.
In the 69th minute Hug was awarded a penalty kick, which was put just over the top crossbar and out of bounds.
The Hawks continued to move forward as time wore on, but whenever he was needed Mejorado came to the rescue.
In the 78th minute Hug hit a low, line drive free kick that made its way through all players before a sprawling Mejorado was able to secure it and boot it out of harms way.
“Him being solid and being confident was huge,” Martinez said. “It gave our players more confidence. He was just huge today.”
Carson fought off pushes over several minutes of stoppage time before the final three whistles blew, sending the Senator bench spilling onto the field to celebrate.
“It’s crazy. I’m just in shock,” said Mejorado postgame.
The win continues an 11-game stretch in which the Senators have yet to see a number other than zero show up in the loss column (7-0-4), dating back to Sept. 25. Carson also sits with just one blemish on its home field this season (6-1-3), which came earlier in the season against Hug.
Carson will be without right back Adrian Lopez Meras for the regional semifinal after Meras picked up a second yellow card in the game’s final moments.