It was a championship game. Someone had to win and advance.
So, when Carson and Spanish Springs proved equals after 110 minutes, the boys soccer Division I North region final came down to penalty kicks.
After years of coming up short in similar games, the Senators are headed to the state tournament after outlasting the Cougars, 5-3, in PKs for the 2-1 victory Saturday afternoon at Damonte Ranch.
Carson was given an opening in the final session when Spanish Springs' Emmanuel Medina missed the Cougars' opening kick wide right.
"I knew all the pressure was on me when Zach Smith made the shot before me," said Cristian Hernandez, who sealed the win with a shot to the left corner as Spanish Springs goalie Omar Trujillo drove right. "I've been practicing penalty shots all year and just shot it where I needed to."
Hernandez was immediately mobbed by his teammates, while Trujillo lay on the turf.
"It was very pressuring but the best always wins," Hernandez said.
The win snapped a six-year drought in state tournament appearances for Carson, who will play either the Sunrise or Sunset region champion Friday at Heritage Park in Henderson.
Despite the jubilation of winning a regional for the first time in eight years, it was not the way Carson coach Mehdi Samii wanted to advance.
"I don't like it. Both teams had fantastic kids and they should just let us play until someone scored," Samii said moments before he was doused with water by his players. "It doesn't matter how long it would take. Somebody would score. That's the way to end it, not on PKs."
Carson fell behind when Andrew Marshall scored in the 23rd minute and the Cougars, in search of their second state berth in three years, held the lead until the 67th minute.
That's when Smith guided a ball up around his chest past Trujillo. It was the only goal Trujillo allowed in the regional.
"This team has no egos," Samii said. "They had ego trouble in years before. This team has no egos. They just wanted to win."
Spanish Springs had chances to build on its lead in regulation but were thwarted.
"It's a tough way to lose but if you can't score more than one goal that's what happens," Cougars coach Rob Moreland said. "... But we'll be back."