Locking horns in a playoff-like atmosphere, the Carson and Douglas high school boys soccer teams scrapped to a 0-0 tie on Wednesday night in their regular season-ending game at Keith Roman Field.
“Yes, it was,” said Douglas coach Vince Brown, when asked about the playoff atmosphere. “I was very pleased with the way they played tonight. The frustrating thing for me as a coach is we proved how well we’re capable of playing.”
Instead, the Tigers ended their season with a 2-10-4 record and out of the playoff picture. And even though victory eluded them, the Tigers regarded the outcome as a positive one. So did their fans, who stood and gave the team an ovation after the final whistle.
“It helps to have a good crowd behind you, like we did tonight,” Brown said. “It’s like having a 12th player.”
Carson (10-3-3) needed a win to clinch second-place in the Sierra League, however, the Senators secured their playoff homefield advantage when Galena (9-3-4) tied Damonte Ranch 1-1 on Wednesday night.
“We played good in the second half, but we didn’t play good enough,” Carson coach Mehdi Samii said. “Douglas played awesome,” Samii said. “They took it to us the first half, and we didn’t know how to respond. You can’t check out for one half and expect to win the game.”
Both teams had their opportunities to score. And both teams produced some big plays on defense. For the orange-clad Tigers, seniors Jacobi Smith and Dane Olsen, along with freshman goalkeeper Luke Heinrichs (6 saves), were instrumental on the defensive end.
“It was a crazy night,” Smith said. “Douglas-Carson games are always good. We really enjoy playing Carson — that’s just the game.”
This game was an 80-minute struggle that continued right up to a nice run up the middle of the field by the Tigers’ Eman Montoya that was broken up by Carson’s back line moments before the final whistle.
The Senators had a couple of chances in the 53rd minute when Smith cleared a ball away from the net and then Ryan Gavan blasted a high ball that Heinrichs tipped over the crossbar for a save.
Gavan also had an open look at the net in the 72nd minute, only to see his line drive stopped by Heinrichs. Late in the first half, Heinrichs also made a fingertip deflection of a grounder headed for the goalpost.
It’s possible the Tigers would be on their way to the playoffs if they had performed at this level all season.
“I’d bet we would,” Olsen said. “We had some breaks go against us (during the season); that’s just the game. But this was a good way to finish our careers.”
Brown echoed those words.
“It’s been a weird season,” he said. “There were times when things just didn’t click for us. Tonight they did. We proved tonight how well we’re capable of playing ... that we are capable of playing well against good sides.”
Douglas 2, Manogue 0
Seniors Eman Montoya and Tristan Cohee supplied the goals on Monday and the defense took care of the rest for the Tigers in their 2-0 win at home against Bishop Manogue.
Montoya broke up a scoreless duel in the 21st minute and Cohee added an insurance goal in the 72nd minute for Douglas on an overcast and frigid afternoon.
The Tigers had numerous scoring opportunities, however, they had to settle for two goals largely due to the presence of Manogue goalkeeper Tony Juarez. The junior had 15 saves, including a diving stop of a penalty kick in the fifth minute.
“Their goalkeeper is superb,” Brown said of Juarez. “He had six or seven saves that should have been goals.”
Montoya finally broke the ice when he followed a shot that was deflected by Manogue’s defense and struck a grounder to the left corner of the net.
Cohee had a good look in the 28th minute but his high shot was tipped away by a leaping Juarez.
Douglas finally gained some breathing room when Emilio Magana fed a long pass that Cohee gathered in directly in front of the net, beat one defender and planted the ball in the back of the net.
Brown had praise for the scoring play on both ends.
“Tristan had to be a little patient, but he held his line well and made a good shot,” the coach said. “But Emilio was the one who put a perfect pass down there for Tristan to work with.
“The work Emilio constantly does, he makes things tick in the middle for us,” Brown added of the senior center midfielder.