Bring on Orange County.
The Nevada Wonders men's soccer team took their first step to making a Premiere Development League playoff run by finishing off a two-game sweep of the California Gold of Modesto, Calif., with a 5-1 win on Saturday at Carson High.
The Wonders improved to 3-5 in league play while the Gold fell to 3-4-1. Up next for the Wonders is a showdown at 7 p.m. this Saturday at Carson High against the unbeaten Orange County Blue Stars.
With three teams going to the playoffs from the PDL's Southwest Division, the Wonders have a chance to be in the thick of the race. While Orange County is the division's dominant team, the race for the last two playoffs spots should be wide open.
"We hope so," said Wonders coach Paul Aigbogun about being able to make a playoff run. "There's still a lot of hard games to come."
The Wonders led 1-0 early in the second half when a Gold defender was given his second yellow card for interfering with a free kick. The infraction resulted a red card and an ejection of the defender, leaving the Wonders with an 11-10 advantage.
The red card actually seemed to temporarily fire up the Gold as Juan Rosas scored moments later to tie the game 1-1. But with the one-man advantage, the Wonders didn't need long to take command.
Just two minutes after Rosas' goal, Anthony Grillo sent a beautiful crossing pass from the right side and Lance Pimental was right there to score on a header to give the Wonders a 2-1 lead. The Wonders are now 3-0 with Grillo, the former Reed High star who will be a redshirt freshman at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, in the lineup.
Ben Callon then stole the ball from a Gold defender and sent the ball from the left side into the right corner of the net to make it 3-1.
"I just decided to close the defender down," Callon said. "I decided to go for the goal and fortunately it went in."
Callon said the difference in the last two games against the Gold was the team's more aggressive play and its ability to take advantage of its scoring chances.
"We're starting to take our chances," Callon said. "We're starting to put chances away and kill them when we need to."
For a few minutes, the Gold were even two men down when one of their players had to come out for a short time with an injury before being able to return. Rob Smith picked up his second assist of the game when he sent a pass from the right side to set up a goal for Grillo to make it 4-1.
Audren Cashmen drew a foul in the goal box and Milton Turner converted the penalty kick to finish the scoring.
The Wonders took a 1-0 lead in the first half when Marvin Soto took a pass from Pimental and sent a shot from the right side into the left corner of the next. The Wonders almost took a 2-0 lead when Smith sent a shot from the right side that was knocked by the Gold goalie. Grillo almost scored off the rebound, but his shot sailed high and the Wonders settled for a 1-0 halftime lead.
Others who took shots for the included Sam Brown and Mathias Calwell for the Wonders, who now are turning their attention to the Blue Stars. The Wonders lost at Orange County earlier in the year.
"Unfortunately we didn't put our chances away," said Callon about the first meeting. "They've got to come to our place."
"It should be interesting," Aigbogun said.