Carson one step closer to league title |

Carson one step closer to league title

Jeremy Evans

The South Tahoe High boys’ soccer team suffered its first league loss since 2002 earlier this season. Now the Vikings face the reality of not winning the league title for the first time since 2000.

Enrique Mendoza scored two goals and his defense did the rest as the Carson Senators are one win away from the Sierra League title following their 2-1 victory over South Tahoe on Wednesday at South Tahoe Middle School. The Vikings, who lost 14 seniors and seven starters off last year’s 4A state championship team, have won the past five league titles.

“You always want to start out playing for the league title and now we are in a position to win it,” said Carson coach Jason Koop, now in this third season. “Chris (DeLeon) is a really good coach and he will have his team playing to its fullest potential regardless who they lose each year. You can never take South Tahoe out of the picture.”

For now, though, the Vikings are in the Senators’ rearview mirror. Carson (14-1 overall, 11-1 league) needs just one win in its final two games to clinch the title.

Early in the first half, it didn’t look good for the Senators after Paulo Caetano was taken down inside the Carson penalty box and was awarded a penalty kick. Caetano, who scored two goals in a 4-1 win over Douglas on Saturday, converted the ensuing kick to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead.

With a win over Carson, South Tahoe would’ve regained first place in the standings with two games left against non-playoff teams. But in the 37th minute, the Senators’ Mats Boehnke played a through ball for Mendoza, who took one touch and drilled a shot past STHS goalie Alfredo Solorio to tie the game at 1.

Then in the 40th minute, Boehnke was fouled just outside the box and Mendoza curled a beautiful free kick around the Vikings’ wall for a 2-1 lead. Neither team generated significant scoring chances in the second half, which allowed the Senators to hang on for the key victory.

“It’s unfortunate, but this game definitely didn’t dampen our spirits,” said STHS defender Ian Rice, who helped lead the Vikings to a 2-1 victory over Carson last month in Carson City. “We are confident in our abilities and now we know what intensity level we need to play at. The league title would’ve been nice, but now we are focused on the playoffs. We look forward to seeing Carson again in the playoffs.”

With the Senators all but assured of the No. 1 seed, the Vikings need one win in their final two games to clinch the league’s No. 2 seed at the Northern 4A playoffs. Set to return this weekend is starting midfielder Anthony DeMarta, who missed Wednesday’s match because of a one-game suspension stemming from his red card in Saturday’s win over the Tigers.

“We got out of our game plan a little bit, and any time you lose somebody like that it’s going to make a difference,” DeLeon said of DeMarta. “Hopefully, this ends up being a blessing in disguise. When we shook hands at their place, they were angry. Today, we were angry. We still feel like we have all the right pieces.”

South Tahoe (14-4-2, 9-2-1) plays at North Valleys on Saturday and closes out its league season next Monday at Hug. Carson plays Wooster and Reno in its final two games.

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