RENO – After both teams failed to find the net in nearly 90 minutes of soccer, the ending could only be described as ironic. Or heartbreaking – for the Cougars.
Eight minutes into the first overtime of Wednesday’s 4A North semifinal at North Valleys, Carson lobbed a ball from midfield towards Spanish Springs’ net. The keeper over ran the ball and the physical, emotional playoff contest came to a close as the ball trickled into the Cougars’ goal.
“We made a mistake in the back,” Spanish Springs coach Winston Mora lamented after the 1-0 overtime loss. “You can’t make mistakes in these games. It’s tough.”
Spanish Springs thought it took a 1-0 lead with 10 minutes left in regulation. Anibal Gonzalez blasted a shot from 35 yards out that bounced off the Carson keeper. Austin Fullmer was in the right place and put the loose ball in the net.
The referee ruled he was in the wrong place. Offside.
“It was said that’s the new rule as far as the goalie making a save and somebody being offside,” Mora said. “You know, so, that was the call.”
Five minutes later, Gonzalez was in on another play that nearly gave the Cougs a 1-0 lead. Again.
He took a free kick from 23 yards out that rolled no more than two feet wide of the far post. It was the Cougars’ last solid look before their season came to a sudden halt.
It was Spanish Springs’ first loss since the second game of the season – at Carson – a span of 15 games where the team went 14-0-1.
“We had a great, great season,” Mora said. “I’m so proud of those guys. We fought to the end. We had expectations that we would win it. We played like we wanted to. But it didn’t happen.”
The loss provided some déjà vu for the Cougs, who lost in the playoffs last year, at Carson, in overtime. The Senators went on to win the state title.
Carson (15-4-0) advanced to the 4A North title game on Saturday at Damonte Ranch against Galena.
Spanish Springs ended the season with a 14-3-1 record.