RENO – Even as they’ve put together an undefeated season, the Bishop Gorman boys soccer team has kept an eye on the Las Vegas Wildcats all year.
Now they can look them in the face from opposite sides of the field.
The Gaels held on during a frenzied-final five minutes in a 4-3 victory over Bishop Manogue in a Class 4A state semifinal at Damonte Ranch High School to set up a meeting between the state champions of the past three years Saturday at 4 p.m.
Shane Thompson scored twice for the Gaels, who weren’t assured of the win until a shot by Bishop Manogue’s Steve Carlson rolled just wide of the net in the final seconds. That came after Manogue had closed to within 4-3 with a goal by Jose Anguiano in the 76th minute.
“We had a feeling that when it was 4-2 that we couldn’t let them have one,” Gorman coach Doug Borgel said. “We felt like we had them on the ropes and they were pretty much done, but we had a feeling if they got one it would give them new life and it certainly did.”
The Gaels scored twice in six minutes to turn a 2-2 tie into a 4-2 lead, with Michael Gray’s goal in the 57th minute preceding Thompson’s tally in the 63rd minute.
The beginning of the game was just as frenzied as the ending. Austin Cain scored 40 seconds into the game to put Gorman ahead 1-0, but the Miners responded with two goals in the next 15 minutes to take a 2-1 lead.
“They’re clearly the best team we’ve played all year and it’s unfortunate it couldn’t have been the final, but it was a great effort by both teams,” Borgel said.
Thompson’s first goal tied the game at 2-2 in the 32nd minute.
“It seemed like the team that worked the hardest got the goals tonight,” Borgel said. ”They took it to us for that 20 minutes and got the two goals off of a couple of mistakes by us. I thought we showed good heart coming back and tying it before the half, and then really ran at them in the second half.”
Gorman (21-0-1) won state titles in 2006 and 2007, but that streak was broken by Las Vegas last season. The Gaels, who lost in the semifinals last season, didn’t get the chance to face off with the Wildcats to defend their titles, and they’ve been looking forward to a shot at them ever since.
“We kind of felt like this season it wouldn’t be right for us not to get a shot at knocking the champs off,” Borgel said. “This is the game we wanted in the final and we got it, so we need to come out and take it.”
Gorman senior Sean Zaher agreed.
“I’m pretty excited,” he said. “I think player-for-player, we match up pretty well.”
Late goal lifts Wildcats
Joaquin Rivas had only been on his feet for a minute, after being fouled while chasing the ball into the corner, when he found himself in front of the goal on the receiving end of a perfect pass from Ruben Amezcua.
Rivas drilled a hard shot off the fingertips of Douglas goalkeeper Ivan Gonzalez in the final minute of regulation to lead Las Vegas (16-4) to a 1-0 win over Douglas in a Class 4A state semifinal match Friday at Damonte Ranch High School.
“I just got back up and I had to keep on going,” he said.
Rivas’ goal allowed the Wildcats to keep going, as well, keeping alive their efforts to repeat as 4A state champions.
“We’re defending state champions,” Las Vegas coach Vince Hart said. “We’re proud to be that and we’re going to be defending state champions until someone tells us to go home tomorrow.”
That he hadn’t found the net earlier was a source of frustration for Rivas and the Wildcats. Las Vegas controlled the ball in its offensive end for almost the entire second half, with no scores to show for it. Their best chance came in the 53rd minute when a shot by Ivan Chamorro hit the crossbar and bounced back to Rivas, whose header was stopped by Gonzalez.
“I thought we dominated both halves, and I don’t think our goalkeeper made a save, a realistic save,” Hart said. “Obviously their goalkeeper played great; I want to congratulate him. He’s the reason they stayed in the game so long.”
Despite many scoring chances, the Wildcats weren’t able to get many shots on goal, and until Rivas’ tally, the few they mustered were stopped by Gonzalez, who made two spectacular saves.
“Even that one was kind of a hopeful shot, and then the header was just the same,” Hart said.
Hart said the Wildcats had trouble adjusting to the artificial surface at Damonte Ranch.
“We never play on it and we were having trouble with the speed of the ball and the bounces,” he said. “It shouldn’t have been that big a deal, but it was for some reason.”
Hart said he expects a better performance from the Wildcats in today’s title game.
“We’re better than that and hopefully we’ll get a chance to show that tomorrow,” he said.
“We’ve just got to work for it real hard,” he said. “I know everyone on this team wants it.”