Douglas High School struck first, but Green Valley struck last, and as it turned out, that was the difference as the Gators from Henderson rallied for a 2-1 opening-round victory at the NIAA/U.S. Bank 4A State Boys Soccer Tournament on an unseasonably warm Friday afternoon at Carson High School.
Sophomore Tyson Urashima's goal 15 minutes into the second half broke a 1-1 tie and sent Green Valley to the victory and a berth in today's championship game. Green Valley (17-1-2) plays South Tahoe (28-0-4) at 10 a.m.
"We're a tough, physical and aggressive team," first-year Green Valley coach Ken Goettsche said. "Douglas played us tough, too. When you get to this point in the season, you know every team is going to be tough and talented."
The physical play, which resulted in one yellow card for each team in the first half, appeared to take Douglas (15-5-2) out of its normal game.
"It was very physical; it always does (hurt)," Douglas coach Phil Sheridan said. "Our kids started retaliating, but in the second half I thought we played better. We played them toe-to-toe.
"But give them a lot of credit, they played well. I thought the possession time favored them; they beat us in the air, and that hurt; and they finished when they had to."
Douglas scored in the sixth minute when Robbie Honer drilled a 25-yard free kick into the back of the net from the left side. The score gave the Tigers a lift in more ways than one, according to co-captain T.J. Plummer.
"They were killing us (physically)," the senior midfielder said. "That kind of gave us some encouragement. It changed the momentum a little bit."
Green Valley answered with the equalizer in the 28th minute when Tyson Miller scored from short-range off a Corey Roberts corner kick.
The game-winner came when Urashima ran down a long downfield pass from midfielder Josh Terry that set up a one-on-one shot from the right side.
"We knew it was a matter of playing our game," Goettsche said, adding that the Gators advanced through their Sunrise Region Tournament with back-to-back 1-0 victories against Rancho (overtime) and Las Vegas.
Green Valley had one other opportunity with 11 minutes left, but Douglas goalkeeper Chad Love made a diving stop of a shot by Urashima.
Meanwhile, Douglas was only able to get off seven shots on goal during the contest.
"Our whole defense and midfield and goalkeeper (sophomore Chris Ancell) came together today," Goettsche said.
Despite the season-ending loss, Sheridan described the season as a success.
"I'm proud of the kids. Getting this far - they had a great year," said Sheridan, who took over as the team's head coach on Oct. 1.
Notes: Carson is the boys soccer academic state champion with a 3.51 team grade point average. Sean Carter, David Dwyer, Jacob Musselman, Jesse Steele and Toby Steele are all 4.0 students ... Dylan Sheridan and Zac Beres were also recognized on the all-state academic team for Douglas, as were Daniel Carew, John Davis, Kevin Hill and Rickard Nilsson for Galena ... Green Valley won the 1997 state championship by defeating Douglas (2-0) and Cheyenne (1-0) at Carson High School. Chris Kircher and Dave Hughes are holdovers from that team.