Carson 1, Fallon 0
Douglas 2, Galena 1 (5-4 penalty kicks)
Elko 1, Reno 0
South Tahoe 5, McQueen 0
By Dave Price
Appeal Sports Writer
At playoff time, neither the margin of victory or beauty of the performance make any difference. The bottom line is winning, and the Carson High boys soccer team was more than happy to take its 1-0 triumph at home against stubborn Fallon in the opening round of the Northern 4A Regional Tournament on Saturday.
A goal in the eighth minute by Royal Good, assisted by Enrique Mendoza, was the difference as the defending tournament champion Senators improved their season record to 12-2-3. More important, the victory gave them a shot at Elko in the semifinals Thursday at 4 p.m. on the Carson High soccer field.
"Any scrappy win, we'll take it, as long as it gets us to the next round," Carson senior midfielder Loren Wooldridge said. "This is where we want to be. We've just got to come out and play strong, from the first minute to the last."
It took a scrappy effort to get past Fallon (9-7-1), which was making its first playoff appearance in three years.
"They're a high energy team," Carson coach Jason Koop said. "They're in shape and they put a lot of pressure on you."
The Senators had an 11-8 advantage on the shot chart. In the end, the difference was Good's goal on their first shot of the game.
Mendoza set the table with a pass from the left side that got through the defense to the far post, where Good was waiting to put it away.
"Cheeks (Mendoza) crossed the ball, I think it deflected off somebody and hopped up," Good said. "I just tried to redirect it and I kind of got my hip on it."
Carson's defense took care of the rest, aided by a halftime adjustment to counter Fallon's 3-5-2 attack.
"They were using a formation we had never seen before. They had three mids in the middle and that was causing us some trouble, so we had to make an adjustment in the second half."
The adjustment included switching freshman John Nuthall to play a stopper position, supported by the play of Kevin Brush at center defender, along with Mats Boehnke, Drew Heller and Sam Rojas in the back.
Rojas helped preserve the 1-0 lead midway through the first half. Scott Wardwell, who scored 14 goals for Fallon this season, broke away with the ball. However, he never had a chance to get off a one-on-one shot on goal, as Rojas came from behind and cleared the ball out of bounds.
Carson was solid enough defensively that Koop pulled senior goalkeeper Bud Kop in favor of freshman Brandon Briggs for the final 10 minutes. Both are quality keepers, according to Koop. The move was intended provide game experience for Briggs, a member of the Nevada state Olympic Development Program 15-year-old team who had only seen limited time at keeper since sustaining a broken elbow in July.
"Bud has played well all year and he played great the first 70 minutes today, I just wanted to give Brandon some playoff experience," Koop said. "The game wasn't locked away by any means, but Brandon stepped up and did a great job. We have two goalkeepers and we're very comfortable with either one of them out there."
Kop and Briggs were credited with one save each. Fallon got its only corner kick in the final two minutes, but Briggs smothered the opportunity when he came out in a crowd to grab the ball. Carson enjoyed an 8-1 advantage in corner kicks during the game.
Fallon goalkeeper Eduardo Sanchez had four saves, including a diving stop to his right on a shot by Mendoza in the 29th minute
"They did not quit one bit," fifth-year Fallon coach Nate Waite said of his team's performance. "I'm proud for their effort and for their commitment. They kept their heads when things got rough.
"It was definitely a game of inches. Many of our shots were right there. We held a team that's lost only to (undefeated) South Tahoe."
Needless to say, Koop is excited that the Senators are still alive in the postseason.
"We'll take the win, whatever the score is, and this is a game that could have gone either way," Koop said. "I don't want to pack up just yet, and neither do the kids."
n Contact Dave Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1220