MINDEN — Even though it’s still early October, the Douglas and Carson high school girls soccer teams clashed Friday afternoon in what seemed like a playoff atmosphere.
Not surprisingly, the rivalry game came right down to the wire before McKenna Kynett converted a penalty kick in stoppage time that lifted Douglas to a 2-1 victory at home against Carson.
All three goals were scored in the final 24 minutes, so yes, the atmosphere on this warm autumn day was playoff-like.
“It was by far our biggest crowd of the year,” Douglas coach Werner Christen said. “Everybody was into it, the kids were into it. I know we were hanging on by our finger nails.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Carson coach Greg Lehman, whose Senators (6-2-2 league) became only the third team to score against Douglas this season. Douglas (9-0 Sierra League, 14-0 overall) has outscored its opposition 70-4 through 14 games.
“It was a great game,” Lehman said. “I thought it was a real evenly matched game and I’m really proud of the way the girls played today.
“We had some good looks and some open ones. We created those opportunities by moving the ball around. Douglas is always fast, strong and organized. These are the kind of games you want to come and play.”
Douglas broke up a scoreless tie in the 56th minute after Alissa Holley stepped in front of an attempted pass inside the penalty box. Holley had a clear look at the right hand corner of the net, took one touch and buried her shot in the back of the net.
“That was a gift, face it,” Christen said. “But a lot of times you see someone get a wide open shot like that and they hit it wide, over (the net) or what have you. And Alissa did a good job of staying calm and patient; she just put it away.”
Carson answered in the 71st minute when Lauren Hudak gathered in the ball on the right side of the net and stroked a grounder that struck the far post and caromed into the net for the equalizer.
In the end, the contest was decided after a foul was called inside the penalty box that set up Kynett for her penalty kick. The junior struck a grounder into the right corner to make it 2-1.
“I just felt it was a little unfortunate the outcome of such a good game was dictated by an official’s call in the last two minutes,” Lehman said with a shrug. “But I’m looking past that. We’re getting ready for regionals, how the girls are playing and hoping that we peak at the right time.”
The Carson coach went on to praise the performances of Bailey Zuber, Lindy Lehman, Lindsey Hettrick and Julie Torres, both on offense and defense.
In the first half, the best scoring opportunity for either team came in the 30th minute when Chantal Torres blasted a long shot that cleared the outreach of Douglas goalkeeper Corryne Millett, struck the crossbar and caromed straight down, just short of the goal line.
Sam Crawford also came up big on the defensive end early in the second half when she cleared the ball out after Hudak appeared to have an open look at the net.
Call it a test of endurance for the Tigers, who were coming off a 1-0 win one night before at High Desert League-leading Spanish Springs. Lexi von Schottenstein’s goal in the 76th minute proved decisive in the makeup of a contest postponed on Sept. 20 due to air quality issues. The Tigers faced Carson without von Schottenstein, who was on a college recruiting trip.
Overall, Christen was simply pleased to still be undefeated and on top of the Sierra League standings.
“We played a lot of soccer last night and again today, so it was great to get two wins against two quality teams,” he said. “Greg does a great job over there (at Carson). They dominated us the first half today; they played the way we wanted to play.”