It will be 363 days, almost a year since Coronado came closer than it ever has.
Nov. 12, 2016, the Coronado’s boys soccer team lost a one-goal lead and fell in overtime of its first state championship game appearance. On Friday, the Cougars will return to the state tournament, and they’ll do it with the memory of last year’s title match.
“Ever since that day, this is all we’ve thought about,” Coronado coach Dustin Barton said. “It’s so hard to get back to state. We’re grateful we’re there, and we don’t want to lose that opportunity.”
Coronado opens the state tournament at 4 p.m. Friday against North Valleys in Reno. The Cougars won their earlier meeting 3-0, and should they win, would move on to play the winner of the Bishop Gorman-Wooster game for the state title Saturday.
Why Coronado (24-2-3) is confident this year will be different than last is that it has is a trump card that few schools in Nevada have ever had. Only twice in state history has a player topped 50 goals in a season, and with two goals in last Friday’s region semifinal game, senior John Lynam became the third. He currently has 105 for his career, third-most in state history and second all-time among Class 4A players.
“You just know he’s going to put a couple away, so as long as the defense does its job, we’re going to most likely come out with a win,” senior Grant Smyth said.
The Cougars lost fellow all-state first-teamer Preston Judd to graduation last year, and reworked their offense. They shifted from having Lynam and Judd essentially alternate goals with two players up top to a one-striker formation where the offense flows through Lynam.
It’s risky relying on one player for so much offense, but Lynam has been up to the task. He has 51 goals, seven more than the next closest player in Southern Nevada. And when teams starting doubling him, he has 17 assists to Coronado’s other playmakers. Alfredo Diaz and Lincoln Aquino each have 11 goals, and three more players scored at least six times.
Lynam either scored or assisted on 60 percent of the team’s 114 goals this year.
“I get the ball a lot more this year because it’s just me up there instead of two,” Lynam said.
Lynam has offers from multiple Division I schools, and has taken a few visits. He won the Nevada Gatorade Boys Soccer Player of the Year last year, and is the favorite to repeat in 2017. He has two Southern Nevada scoring titles and two Sunrise Region championships.
But he doesn’t have a state title ring. And to hear him say it, none of it matters without that. And if Coronado wins Friday, he will return to the state title game 364 days after his last trip.
“That’s probably the thing I want most out of all of it is a state championship,” Lynam said. “I’d definitely trade all stuff in just for a state title.”