When Durango High School opened in 1993, its boys basketball team established a fierce rivalry with Bishop Gorman for many years.
Fast forward 25 years, and the schools are once against battling, only it’s with the boys soccer teams.
Still stinging from last year’s loss in the region title championship, Durango exacted revenge Thursday in the Desert Region semifinals, when Marcos Delgado scored in the 65th minute and the Trailblazers held on to defeat the Gaels 1-0 at Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex.
With the victory, the Trailblazers advance to Saturday’s championship against defending state champion Coronado, a 3-0 winner over Clark. Both Durango and Coronado earned berths into next week’s state tournament.
“This is everything I was waiting for, it’s a dream,” Delgado said. “Now, in the finals, we have to come out strong and finish it.”
Delgado said coach Richard Cuellar’s pregame speech motivated the Trailblazers to stay composed, and never lose focus as a team. He also said losing to Gorman 4-0 during the regular season was added motivation, on top of last year’s postseason loss.
Cuellar returned nearly everybody from last season’s team. And that, he said, is what simplified the game when putting together combinations and executing in the attacking zone.
While Gorman kept the pressure on Durango goalie Jason Sotelo, who finished with 12 saves in the shutout win, the Trailblazers finally broke through when Gael Delangel-Parra fed Delgado for the game-winner.
“We’ve been working hard since we got in the playoffs,” Cuellar said. “I told them when we get on the field we are one as a team. We have to start learning to play now, just like we did at practice. We are all brothers as a team.
“They took us out of the finals last year with the golden goal, so this is our revenge.”
Coronado 3, Clark 0 — Coming into the season, the talk of the John Lynam-era being over apparently meant Coronado’s reign was state champion was coming to an end. After all, he did score the second-most goals in Class 4A history.
But this year’s Cougars wanted no part of the conversation of last year’s seniors.
They’ll have a chance to defend their title in next week’s state tournament thanks to goals by Alfredo Diaz, Andrew Siciliano and Javier Estrada and goalkeeper Josue Ruiz’s shutout.
“We were trying to get back-to-back (titles), that was always one of our goals at the beginning of the season,” said Diaz, who scored two goals in a 3-2 win over Clark during the regular season. “We knew we needed to pick up where John left off, and that’s what we’re trying to do now is win another state cup.”
Estrada opened the scoring for the Cougars when he took a feed from Siciliano and beat Clark goalkeeper Bryan Miranda on the right side in the 23rd minute.
Early in the second half, it was Estrada assisting Siciliano, who found a wide-open net on the left side to extend the defending champs’ lead to 2-0.
Diaz put the game away in the 26th minute when he caught Miranda sprawling from a previous shot and fired a rebound into the net.
“We possess the ball and look to penetrate, we find the openings, we try to be patient and wait until we find the openings and when we find them, we go for them and play direct and score,” Coronado coach Dustin Barton said. “We’ve been here so we were pretty calm and patient. We knew what we had to do. We expected to be back in the state championship this year.
“This is a team, seven of us are back. So, they were pretty confident we’d be back again.”