Bishop Gorman midfielder Blake Balelo had one goal during the regular season.
It took him one playoff game to score twice as many.
Balelo scored two goals — one in each half — and the Gaels rolled past Del Sol 5-0 in the Class 4A state play-in game Tuesday at Bettye Wilson Park.
“We worked on trying to break down their formation and it worked in my favor,” Balelo said. “And the runs I made — everything came in the right place when I needed it.”
The sophomore struck six minutes into the match, redirecting a pass from Michael Tonetti to the far post to give Gorman (18-1-1) the only goal it would need.
“That definitely eased us,” Balelo said. “We knew we had to win this one, and we had to stay calm and get that first goal. We could break them down the rest of the game. We just had to get that first goal.”
The Gaels, who lost to Las Vegas on penalty kicks in last year’s state final, found themselves in a do-or-die game following their first loss of the year, against Legacy in the Sunset Region final.
“We responded very well,” Gorman coach Doug Borgel said. “I think, to our advantage, we’ve now seen Legacy, we got to see Desert Pines and we got to see Del Sol. It helps, because (Del Sol plays) a different style than anyone we faced all year.”
Gorman advanced to Friday’s 6 p.m. semifinal against Sunrise champion Desert Pines (14-3-3) at Bettye Wilson Park. Legacy plays North champ Spanish Springs at 4 p.m.
“We feel we’re in a good spot here,” Borgel said. “We know where we want to be, and this isn’t always the way we want to go. But sometimes a loss helps refocus the boys.”
Shane Thompson powered through the Dragons’ defense in the eighth minute, guiding a blast to the same post Balelo hit two minutes earlier to give the Gaels a 2-0 halftime lead.
Balelo struck again 16 minutes after the break, after Tonetti’s shot on goal was denied by Del Sol goalkeeper Gerardo Mendoza.
“He’s had chances, created chances all year,” Borgel said of Balelo. “He’s been our playmaker. He’s scored some big goals. He scored against Bonanza, and then a couple here in the playoffs.”
Rian McEvoy and Ramak Roohani scored late, with Roohani tapping in a cross from Sean Keith.
Del Sol (13-6-2) struggled to challenge in the first half, when the Dragons tested Gorman goalkeeper Thomas Olsen only once. But the Dragons found the target more in the second half, and Olsen finished with six saves.
Del Sol had its best shot nearly 10 minutes after halftime, when Eric Beil crossed the ball to Roberto Perez, who slammed a down-the-middle shot. But Olsen barely flipped the ball with a foot to preserve the shutout.