Creating opportunities might be Ivan Rodriguez’s specialty for Green Valley’s boys soccer team.
It certainly was Thursday for the sophomore.
Rodriguez took a pass from Mark Ocampo down the left sideline and scored from 25 yards out in the 52nd minute to propel the Gators to a 1-0 victory over Desert Pines in a Sunrise Region semifinal at Rancho.
“He creates opportunities, as he’s done all year,” Green Valley coach Jacob Rivera said of Rodriguez. “We were getting a lot of spacing outside, and (Ocampo) played a great ball behind the defense, and sometimes those go in. He struck it well, and sometimes it’s one goal that is the difference.”
It was for the Gators (12-4-1), who advanced to play Eldorado (17-2-1) in the region final at noon Saturday at Faith Lutheran. The winner will clinch a spot in the state tournament.
Green Valley goalkeeper Phillip McGovern made Rodriguez’s goal stand up with a 13-save shutout that included a leaping block of a Desert Pines free kick just above the crossbar late in the second half.
“He gave us the game. He came up with every save,” Rodriguez said of McGovern.
McGovern posted an 11-save shutout in a 1-0 upset of Las Vegas in the first round.
“He’s been the rock back there. He was tremendous,” Rivera said of McGovern. “He’s smart, he’s composed and this is his last year. He knows it, and you can see it in his eyes; he’s not going to let us down.
“I think it’s about his willingness to be aggressive in the right places and not take 'no’ for an answer. He got every ball in the box.”
Desert Pines (9-6-3) fell short in its upset bid after knocking off Southeast League champion Coronado on Tuesday.
Green Valley will play Saturday for its first region title since 2001.
Eldorado 2, Tech 1 — Antonio Murrillo scored off an assist from Ruben Duran in the fourth minute, and the Sundevils held on to oust the Roadrunners (15-4-1).
Duran scored on an assist from Chris Perez in the 39th minute to give Eldorado a 2-0 halftime lead.
“That’s always been our goal,” Sundevils coach Gerald Pentsil said of scoring early. “It puts the other team on their heels, and it ended up being the difference here. That’s been our goal, and we continue to achieve it.”
Tech’s Oscar Velazquez scored from more than 30 yards out in the 44th minute to narrow the deficit to 2-1, but the Roadrunners couldn’t rally from a 2-0 halftime deficit for the second consecutive match.
Eldorado sophomore goalkeeper Sammy Tapia made 11 saves.
“He was probably the difference today,” Pentsil said. “We’d been platooning (goalkeepers), but we went with him for the playoffs, and he proved why today.”
Eldorado will play Saturday for the first region crown in program history.
Tech’s season ended on a 2-1 playoff loss for the fourth straight year.