With three minutes to go in the game, Carson’s Guillermo Hernandez had his penalty shot deflected away by Galena goalie Porter Rittenhouse.
It was that kind of day, and the play was just icing on the proverbial cake for the Senators.
Galena, on the strength of two Henry Zarate goals, knocked off the Senators, 2-0, Wednesday afternoon in the NIAA Division I regional semifinals at the Jim Frank Track & Field Complex.
Carson finished the season 11-5-2 under first-year head coach Mike Alvarez.
“Carson and Galena play similar styles,” Alvarez said. “Galena showed that they wanted it more. They outhustled us. We weren’t talking to each other.
“After that first goal, our team went into a defensive mode, and when you do that it’s hard to make any plays up top.”
What was probably even more difficult to swallow is that Carson was 1-0-1 against Galena in the regular season.
“The game they had to play Monday night I think took a lot out of them,” said Marco Merlo, Galena head coach. “It was cold and they had to go to overtime. The first half we moved the ball well and made them work on defense.”
“I think we were just a lot more confident this time,” Zarate said. “We played together.”
Which was the complete opposite of the Senators, who just seemed lost; out of sync. Carson made a few forays toward the Galena goal. Part of the reason is the Senators’ inability to control the ball and when you can’t control the ball you won’t get many good touches. Carson had just four shots on goal, including the penalty kick and a couple of direct free kicks.
The first direct free kick came in the 11th minute when high-scoring Ryan Galvan was pulled down, just outside the penalty box area. Hernandez tried to pound the shot into the right corner, but Rittenhouse made a diving stop.
Six minutes later, Hernandez pounded another direct kick, but it sailed wide right.
Two minutes later, Zarate fired a shot on goal from about 20 yards that went right through the hands of Efren Ramirez to break the scoreless tie.
“He just handed that one to me,” said Zarate, referring to Ramirez’s inability to control the ball.
In the 38th minute, Zarate made it 2-0 when he beat Ramirez again.
“Quinn (Hoelzer) gave me a pass and I put it in the corner,” Zarate said.
The first 28 minutes of the second half, it was all Grizzles. Galena almost made it 3-0 in the 68th minute, but Ramirez came up to smother a through ball before Zarate could get a foot on it. A minute later, Octavio Virrueta made a great corner kick, but nobody was able to get a head or foot on it. Eight minutes later is when Carson had its best chance to score, as Galvan was pulled down in the penalty box area. Hernandez tried to go to the left corner, but came up empty.
Unofficially, Galena outshot Carson 12-4.
Despite the disappointing loss, Alvarez took a minute to reflect on the season.
“The season as a whole I’m very pleased with,” Alvarez said.
“I considered it to be a rebuilding year, and we exceeded my expectations. I’m very happy with the season.”
The Senators return 11 players next year, including goalie Ramirez, Peter Garrett, Christian Martinez and Sal Rodriguez plus Alejandro Gonzalez, Brian Llamas, Hernandez, Rogelio Herrera, Jaime Saldana, Jose Sepulveda and Oscar Ventura.