Bryan Baugh enjoys the rewards that come with hard work.
Two-a-day practices, early-morning gym sessions and tedious laps around the track during the summer were steps he envisioned would lead Green Valley’s boys soccer team to its ultimate goal.
For Baugh and the Gators, that day could be on the immediate horizon.
Green Valley (13-4-3) collides with Carson at 4 p.m. Friday in a Division I state semifinal at Heritage Park. The other semifinal pits Eldorado (16-4-1) against Bishop Gorman (12-2-2), also at 4. The winners play at 10 a.m. Saturday.
“It’s my senior year, and I want to go out with a bang,” said Baugh, who was 6 years old the last time the Gators made the state tournament. “I’ve watched all the seniors before squander opportunities, and I want to make the most of it. I want to go out with no regrets.”
Green Valley, which hasn’t appeared in a state tournament since 2001, last won a state championship in 1999.
“Personally, for me, it’s about helping the kids get better,” third-year Green Valley coach Jacob Rivera said. “I’ve coached at the high school level and the college level, and I want kids to have that opportunity to play at the next level. Win, lose or draw, if they’re able to have those opportunities, I think that’s success. But hanging banners, you like to leave a little legacy while you’re here.”
The Gators won their first Sunrise Region championship in more than a decade last weekend, knocking off top seeds Eldorado and Las Vegas and a strong Liberty squad.
“You want to play your best soccer at the end of the year, obviously,” Rivera said. “When you fight through a game like Liberty, which was a very tough game, and to have the success we did against Vegas and Eldorado, how we dictated play was very positive for the boys.
“I think they believe in themselves more prior to this week. That’s helpful when you believe you can win. It makes coaching a little easier.”
Green Valley has shown a variety of offensive weapons throughout the postseason, including Baugh (two goals, three assists), junior midfielder Ivan Rodriguez (three goals, one assist) and junior forward Kade Kochevar (two goals).
“It’s great that we don’t have to rely on one person, and if they’re not doing well, the whole team suffers,” said Baugh, who has rotating roles as a defender, midfielder and forward. “Instead, if one person’s struggling, the rest of the team just picks him up.”
Rivera said he will lean on his balanced scoring attack against Carson, a team the Gators know little about.
“We didn’t see Eldorado before we played them,” Rivera said. “I think it’s more about doing what you’re supposed to do out there than not letting other teams dictate changes in your game. If you do what you’re supposed to do, usually the game will take care of itself.”
In Division I-A boys, Tech meets Truckee and Sparks faces Clark, with both matches at 4 p.m. In Division III boys, North Tahoe meets Incline at 4, and Whittell plays The Meadows at 6. All boys title matches are at 10 a.m. Saturday.
In the Division I girls semifinals, Carson plays Green Valley and Coronado meets Arbor View, both at 6 p.m. In Division I-A, Elko meets Faith Lutheran and South Tahoe faces Pahrump Valley, both at 6. In Division III, Whittell and Adelson School meet at 4, and Incline plays White Pine at 6.
All three girls title matches are at noon Saturday.