The tailspin continues for the Carson High boys soccer team.
After starting the season 10-0, the Senators suffered their third-straight defeat on Wednesday at Carson High, 2-0 to a surging South Tahoe squad that's now taken over first place in the Sierra League.
Carson (10-3 overall, 7-3 league) has only scored one goal in its past three games, two of which were 2-0 shutout losses to South Tahoe and Reno (9-3-1, 7-2-1), the two teams that have now moved past the Senators in the league standings.
Coach Jim Nealis isn't sure what's happening. He's hoping Saturday's game against lowly Hug will reignite a once potent Senator offense and bring back some of the swagger that had the team, at one time, thinking about going into the Northern 4A playoffs undefeated.
If the playoffs were to start today, the Senators wouldn't even host a game.
"We're learning the hard way that you gotta' find a way to win," Nealis said. "We're having trouble putting the ball in the back of the net, but we're going to have to fight through it. We definitely need that game where we can do our thing and get our confidence back. Hopefully, Saturday's game will do that."
Wednesday's game certainly wasn't it as South Tahoe came out and simply dominated.
"Our kids were hungry. The last time we played Carson, we were missing our top goal scorer (Alex Torres) and I think psychologically that affected us," said Vikings' coach Joe Winters, referring to Carson's 3-1 win earlier this season in South Lake Tahoe.
In the 8th minute, Larry Martinez connected with Leon Abravanel in the box, who collected the ball off his chest, split two defenders, and half-vollied a shot into the net. In the 17th minute, the Vikings' Enrique Avina blasted a shot from 30-yards out that bounced off the post and ricocheted off Carson goalie Sean Carter and into the net for South Tahoe (10-2-1, 8-2).
"We just have a lot of weapons," Winters said. "We moved Enrique up from the jayvee team and he's scored eight or nine goals for us in the last six games. And Larry Martinez can put the ball away. Alex is physically ready to play but just isn't in game shape yet. But we're starting to get our confidence back."
Carson, meanwhile, couldn't muster anything offensively. The Senators had four shots and Viking goalie Pete Chiarpotti only had to make two saves. South Tahoe got behind the ball defensively, leaving Carson without any numbers when it did attack.
"Their intensity (South Tahoe) in the first 20 minutes was the difference," Nealis said. "They won every loose ball, every header. Defensively, they worked harder. I think they just wanted it a little more than we did today."
Winters can empathize with what Nealis is going through.
"I've had teams like theirs before," Winters said. "We started out undefeated and thought we had the league wrapped up, then lost games at the end. It's hard to get kids up for every game, get them motivated. But Carson is too good not to come back. They're a great team."
South Tahoe's last two games are against playoff teams in Douglas and Reno. Carson has games against the Hawks and its season finale with the Tigers before the playoffs.
"Our last three games are against playoff teams, so that's how we're treating them, like they are the playoffs," Winters said. "And I think that should help us."