Hugo Barajas had trouble finding ways to contribute to Palo Verde’s soccer success in the first nine weeks of the season.
The junior wasn’t eligible to participate in matches, but he tried to keep up the team’s spirits at games and in practices.
In the meantime, he worked hard in the classroom and on the field to be ready when his time finally came.
That was Tuesday.
Barajas scored all three goals, including the match-winner in double overtime, as the Panthers (12-5) edge Durango 3-2 in a Sunset Region boys soccer quarterfinal at Bettye Wilson Park.
“The impact he had today was absolutely the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen out of a high school player in my life,” Palo Verde coach Kevin Hagood said.
Not bad for someone who spent most of the year watching from the sidelines.
“It bothered me,” Barajas said of not being able to contribute early in the season. “I just tried to work hard in school and in practice so I’d be ready for the playoffs.”
Barajas scored twice in the second half, then ended the match with a fantastic individual effort.
As Durango attempted to clear the ball from its end of the field, Barajas flared his legs out to the right while jumping in the air. Horizontal to the ground, he sprayed a shot just underneath the crossbar and inside the right post.
“It was absolutely amazing,” Hagood said. “The kid is just incredible.”
Said Barajas: “I don’t even know how I did it. All the hard work in practice and in my school work all paid off.”
Bryan Capistro scored twice for Durango.
Clark 2, Legacy 1 — Salvador Bernal and Angelo Soro each scored as the Southwest League champion Chargers (16-1-2) built a 2-0 lead and turned back the Longhorns.
Ivan Saucedo scored with three minutes remaining for the Longhorns (8-7-2).
Clark will face Palo Verde in a regional semifinal Thursday at 6 p.m.
Centennial 1, Spring Valley 0 — Kevin Rogge broke a scoreless tie two minutes into overtime as the Northwest League champion Bulldogs (16-1) won their 16th consecutive match by beating the Grizzlies (9-8-2).
Centennial peppered Spring Valley goalkeeper John Strand with countless scoring chances in the second half but couldn’t get on the board.
Isaac Ramirez crossed a pass from the left side to Rogge in front of the net for the winner.
Tyler McAninch earned the shutout for the Bulldogs.
Bishop Gorman 5, Cimarron-Memorial 3 — Cody Barnett broke a 2-2 tie by scoring on a penalty kick midway through the second half as the Gaels (15-6-1) scored four conseuctive goals to down the Spartans (9-6-2).
Austin Cain scored twice for Gorman, which trailed 1-0 and 2-1. Fuzzy Orellana and Ramak Roohani also scored for Gorman, which will face Centennial on Thursday at 4 p.m.
Edgar Nava, Scottie Beckwith and Joe Garcia scored for the Spartans.