The Nevada Wonders did their best to send coach Paul Aigbogun back home with a win Saturday night, but fell a goal short in a 2-1 loss to the Bakersfield Brigade in a United Soccer League match at Carson High School.
Bakersfield, which owns two wins over Nevada, improved to 4-8-2 overall. Nevada dropped to 5-11 overall. Nevada concludes the season this week with an away game at Fresno on Thursday night and a home game against Fresno on Saturday night.
Aigbogun won't be on the sidelines for either game, but will return to guide the Wonders next season. Randy Roser and Jason Koop, the Carson High girls' and boys' head coaches will coach the team.
"I have to take care of some family stuff," Aigbogun said after talking to his players after the game. "We also have two or three players going to Europe for tryouts. We didn't have Audren (Cashman) tonight. He's been having some minor injury problems, and I told him not to play.
"It was two teams at the end of the season. There was nothing to play for really. We had chances, but things didn't break for us."
Aigbogun was also without Ben Callon (red card last game), Lance Pimentel and Sam Brown. Make no mistake about it, those four guys would have made a big difference.
Despite playing shorthanded, the Wonders held up nicely. Nevada played the final 25 minutes without defender David Martin, who picked up his second yellow card and was ejected.
Bakersfield had a 16-12 edge in shots, and after giving up a goal in the third minute to Nevada's Jordan Keys, clearly outplayed Nevada.
"That (early goal) was kind of a shock," Bakersfield coach Jason Gore. "It got us motivated to get our game back."
Nevada had some nice runs in the first half after the initial score, but couldn't finish. Meanwhile, Bakersfield had many nice opportunities, and finally cashed in at the 26th minute when Lyle Martin took a long pass and dribbled into the penalty area. Goalkeeper Dan Benton came out to defend, but Martin punched the ball past him, tying the game at 1.
Ten minutes later, Bakersfield scored what proved to be the game winner. Dan Perez tripped up Bakersfield's Javier Cervantes in the penalty, drawing a foul from the referee and creating a penalty kick opportunity. Jason Carter looked left and then blasted the ball in the right corner, as Benton dove to the right trying to guess where Carter was going.
"Jason hit it good," Gore said. "He did a good job of hiding his shot."
"They (Perez and Cervantes) just got their feet tangled on (that) play," Aigbogun said.
Nevada had a great chance to tie the game at 2 in the waning seconds of the half, but Anthony Grillo's shot went off the left post.
"That could have changed the game for both teams," Gore said.
Martin was ejected 20 minutes into the second half, but Nevada did a nice job at both ends of the field.
In the 74th minute, Eric Webster crossed the ball in front of the goal, but Keys' header was just off the mark. Two minutes later, Keys made a nice throw-in toward the goal, but none of his teammates could make a play on it.
Bakersfield fired off three good shots in the next eight minutes, but Benton & Co. were equal to the task.
Keys had another great opportunity in the 88th minute on a header which was knocked away by defender Matt O'Sullivan.
The win was especially sweet for Bakersfield goalie Vincent Littiardi, who played for Nevada a couple of years ago. He had six saves and did a nice job directing the Brigade defense.