Spanish Springs’ second half downs Carson boys soccer, ends playoff run
Senators end year with first loss since Sept. 25
Carson High boys soccer knew it was going to have a tough task against last year’s state semifinalist in Spanish Springs, who came into Thursday’s contest unbeaten (12-0-3).
The Cougars brought the Senators’ season to a close with a 3-0 win in Carson Thursday evening in the 4A Northern Region semifinals, leaving the Senators one win short of a state tournament berth.
Despite having some struggles in the first half with turnovers, Carson went into the halftime intermission deadlocked with Spanish Springs, 0-0.
The Cougars broke the scoreless tie in the 61st minute when Edwin Maldonado split the Senator defense and rocketed home a goal.
Five minutes later, Spanish Springs midfielder Lucca Casci put his head on a wayward corner kick and flicked it into the top corner to quickly make it 2-0.
Carson head coach Francisco Martinez thought the Senators had started to play their best soccer of the evening right before Spanish Springs opened the scoring.
“We started off a little shaky. Once we settled down we started connecting and playing better, then they got a goal,” said Martinez. “… We just needed to control the ball more.”
Spanish Springs put the final nail in the coffin in the 78th minute after a Miguel Maldonado free kick got underneath the Senator wall and found the back of the net.
Arguably Carson’s best offensive opportunity came in the closing moments of the game. Jose Godinez deked a Cougar defender and sprinted another few yards before roping a shot just over the top crossbar.
“They played their hearts out,” said Martinez. “They fought until the end. We almost had a goal. … Spanish Springs is a good team. Today they were the better team.”
Road to the regional semis
The result marked Carson’s first loss since Sept. 25 in which the Senators went 11 games without a stumble.
After starting the year 3-6-1, the Senators went 7-0-4 over the second half of the season to slide their way into a No. 2 finish in the Sierra League.
Carson tacked on an opening round postseason win against its consistent playoff counterpart, Hug, before battling with Spanish Springs.
For Martinez, the importance of where the Senators finished the year couldn’t have been overstated.
“There was some times during the season I was a little shaky. They surprised me. I’m very happy with where we got,” said Martinez. “I think we did amazing this season, after how we started.”
Carson responded from that shakiness with a string of results that earned the Senators three points while picking up wins over several teams they had lost to earlier in the year.
Since Carson was the road team Thursday evening as the lower seed, the Senators finished the season 6-1-3 on their home turf.
“It’s huge. We learned from the first games. They got better and better and worked harder, and that’s life,” said Martinez.
Carson will lose a large group of its team to graduation as 15 seniors played their last game in the blue and white Thursday night.