By Dave Price
Appeal Sports Writer
Playoff atmosphere. Back-and-forth battle right down to the wire. You know, just another typical matchup between the Carson and South Tahoe high school boys soccer teams.
Micah Laack scored with 10 minutes left to give Carson a lead and Ernesto Mosqueda answered with the equalizer for South Tahoe six minutes later to cap a wild finish as the Sierra League-leading rivals scrapped to a 2-2 tie at Carson High on Wednesday night.
"Wow!," South Tahoe coach Chris DeLeon said with a sigh afterward. "That was high intensity game, but that's to be expected. This is a rivalry that goes way back and these guys know it. They always play hard against each other, but at the same time, they respect each other."
The deadlock enabled South Tahoe (9-0-3 league, 12-1-3 overall) to maintain its three-point lead over second-place Carson (8-1-3 league, 9-2-3 overall) in the standings. South Tahoe beat Carson last month at the lake, 4-0. But going back to last season, Carson emerged with a 1-0 victory on its home field against the defending state champion Vikings 1-0 in the Northern 4A Regional semifinals.
Wednesday night was merely an extension of that playoff game.
"They played great, and over on the other side, we played great as well," Carson coach Jason Koop said. "We missed a couple of defensive marks and they capitalized on our mistakes. But that's what good teams do."
There was even some controversy because Carson had an apparent go-ahead goal by Edgar Gomez in the 69th minute disallowed after officials ruled that South Tahoe goalkeeper Alfredo Solorio was taken out on the play. The score was waved off, leaving the teams tied at 1-1, and Koop drew a yellow card in the dispute that followed.
"I felt it had been wrongly taken away and I wanted to get the yellow to do what I could to get my players fired up," Koop said. "And it worked."
The Senators got another opportunity one minute later when Zack Weismann's shot from the left side was stopped by Solorio in front of the net, but Micah Laack was there to gather in the rebound and push the ball into the net.
South Tahoe came right back and jumped on an opening in the 76th minute when Milton Montoya crossed the ball across the front of the net to an open Mosqueda, who cashed in with his second goal of the night.
"One thing, our guys never quit," DeLeon said. "They never hung their heads. They kept pestering and kept taking shots."
Carson had taken a 1-0 lead in the 26th minute after a corner kick when Enrique Mendoza fed a pass on the right side to freshman Brady Roser, who struck a low liner to the back of the net.
South Tahoe answered in the 56th minute on a long downfield pass from Eric Sandoval on the left side to Mosqueda, who headed the ball out of the air and into the net.
With a three-point deficit in the standings and just two games remaining in the regular season, Koop knows the Senators will have a very difficult time winning the league championship. They will simply try to close with wins at Wooster on Saturday and at home against Reno next Monday.
"We're not guaranteed second-place, so we still have to take care of business Koop said.
"Tonight is what we're going to see come zone time (playoffs)," he added. "There's a good chance we could play them again."
If that happens, it should be another exciting contest.
"That's a team to respect," DeLeon said. "Jason Koop has a lot of speed on that team and they're every bit as conditioned as we are, if not better."
An injury-depleted Carson junior varsity fell just short in a 2-1 loss against South Tahoe. The Senators only had 11 players available for the game.
Martin Azzam scored off an assist from Blake Moreland in the second half to account for Carson's goal. Jared Baxter, Colter Thomas, Alex Kaskie and Nik Marsh gave standout performances on the defensive end, according to coach Joe Briggs.
n Contact Dave Price at email@example.com or 881-1220.