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Douglas boys soccer ends season with semi-final loss

Donnie Nelson

Turn out the lights, the party is over.

The Douglas High School boys soccer team ended its season Friday with a 2-0 loss to Green Valley in a semifinal game of the Class 4A state tournament at Carson.

Douglas coach Mike Robinson put the loss in perspective for his players.

“I told them this was just a celebration, just icing on the cake,” said Robinson, whose team finished the season 18-2-2 and won a second straight zone championship.

Green Valley, the No. 11 ranked team in the nation according to USA Today, improved to 17-1-1 and will play in the 10 a.m. final today against the winner of Friday’s second semifinal between Sparks and Cheyenne.

“They’re a good team,” Robinson said. “They were more aggressive than we were. They got to the ball more often than we did. They also have an excellent keeper who made two great saves.”

Green Valley controlled the tempo throughout the first half. Green Valley, with its four fullbacks and two deep stoppers, played an English long-ball style with which Douglas wasn’t accustomed to and didn’t want to get caught up in but did.

The Gators are a one-touch, kick ball team that likes to counter attack. They’re an opportunistic team which likes to play long, full-field change of direction balls out of the back and let its forwards run onto them.

“We knew they played that way and we just tried to cope with it,” Robinson said.

Douglas had a hard time getting into any kind of rhythm in the first half, a 40-minute stanza which lacked any steady flow of play. Douglas struggled to get continuity and continuous possession on the outsides, and controlled touches in the midfield.

Green Valley, which outshot Douglas 14-2 in the first half, broke the ice in the 24th minute. Karim Pecoraro sent a throw in from the left side into the penalty box. Adam Canfield turned on a free ball from 16 yards out and laced a sharp grounder past the Douglas fullbacks and goalie Kevin Gwinn into the net.

Douglas found its interior passing game and got back into its outside-in attack in the first part of the second half.

In the 41st minute, Dane Eiteneier fired a header from 15 yards out on goal off a cross from the right side by Shane Hennessy-York, but Green Valley goalie Ben Crawford was in the right place and made a relatively easy save.

Douglas’ best scoring opportunity of the game came in the 61st minute. Brett Marenco sent a free kick from the right side of the midfield into the middle of the box, where Caleb Currence redirected it on goal with a nifty header. The shot had Crawford, who had come well off his line, beat initially, but the Southern Zone first-team goalie recovered and made a reverse, diving punch save out of bounds.

Green Valley finally broke Douglas’ spirit with a second goal in the 70th minute. Mike Swain scored the insurance goal off a pass from Tim Villamor.

“Douglas has a good team,” Green Valley coach Vince Hart said. “I was pleasantly surprised. It was a tight game that could’ve gone either way. Douglas played well in the first 20 minutes of the second half and I was concerned.”

Douglas’ final scoring opportunity came in the 79th minute. Kevin Rohrbough’s shot from the left side got through the goalie’s reach, but Crawford again recovered and nudged the ball out of bounds just in front of the goal line.