Tigers fall short in season soccer finale
Luke Heinrichs and his fellow Douglas High boys soccer seniors turned in a memorable performance to end their season at home Wednesday afternoon.
It would have perfect, except arch rival Carson slipped in a second-half goal to pull out an important 1-0 Sierra League victory. Even so, Douglas (2-13-1 league, 2-14-1 overall) went out on a positive note against defending region and state champion Carson (12-4 league, 13-4 overall).
“The kids played really well today,” first-year Douglas coach Chase Zumpft said. “We had a couple of opportunities at the end of the first half. But that’s been the bane of our season … we haven’t been able to put the ball in the back of the net. Aside from a couple of games, we’ve been competitive … we’ve had a lot of close losses.”
Nine of those defeats were decided by two goals or less. Five were decided by 1-0 or 2-1 scores.
Carson broke up a scoreless duel in the 55th minute when Rogelio Herrera delivered a pass to the left side of the net, where Guillermo Hernandez gathered in the ball and struck a grounder just inside the far post. The goal was the ninth this season for Hernandez.
The damage would have been more extensive if not for a solid performance by Heinrichs, the Tigers’ senior goalkeeper. The four-year varsity starter had seven of his 10 saves in the second half.
“Luke had an awesome game,” Zumpft said. “He kept us in it.”
This was a much different game than Carson’s 8-0 win at home against Douglas on Oct. 8, Carson coach Frank Martinez acknowledged.
“We had our opportunities, but they have a good goalie,” the Carson coach said. “Luke was on his game today. And you could see Douglas wanted it. The rivalry’s there and they played hard.”
The Tigers had a couple of opportunities to score shortly before halftime. First, freshmen Jonathan Valdez and Wyatt Pratt strung together a combination of passes that led to an open shot in the 35th minute by senior Anthony Soria that slid just wide of the goalpost. Three minutes later, Jonathan Fastabend passed to Valdez for a short shot that was stopped by Carson goalkeeper Efren Ramirez.
The Senators surged to life offensively at the outset of the second half with 11 shots during a span of 15 minutes.
“Our second half was way better than the first,” Martinez said. “We were a little sleepy in the first half, maybe a little overconfident.”
Heinrichs stopped a wide open shot by Carson’s Raul Lopez two minutes into the second half. Four minutes later, Heinrichs stopped a shot by Herrera and moments later, senior defender Crew Kudrna blocked another shot from inside the box. Heinrichs also blocked one-on-one opportunities in the 58th and 72nd minutes to keep the Tigers within striking distance.
“We’ve improved since the start of the season,” Zumpft said. “The difference is like night and day. As a coach, I couldn’t ask for anything more of them, especially the seniors.”
Note: The eight seniors who played their final game for Douglas included Antony Hernandez, Luis Hernandez, Zachary Kruse, Brian Leon, Travis Rollins, Soria, Kudrna and Heinrichs.