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I-A BOYS SOCCER: Lopez makes sure Clark attains goal

Whenever Clark’s boys soccer team needed a boost during the second half of the season, it needed only to look to senior Ivan Lopez.

The Chargers needed Lopez to deliver one more big play Saturday, and he didn’t let them down.

Lopez scored the winning goal with eight minutes left to lift Clark to its first state title since 1988 with a 2-1 victory over Tech in the Division I-A state final at South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

“He was the MVP of our season,” Clark coach Juan Chavez said. “Tech was pressuring him hard all game, and he was starting to fade. I told him we needed one more goal, and he got it.”

Lopez, who also netted the winner in double overtime against Tech in the region final, took a pass by Eduardo Martinez about 20 yards out. He battled through three defenders, fell, got up, and as Tech goalkeeper Tyler Harvey came out to cut down the angle, Lopez tucked a shot under Harvey’s shoulder and into the net.

Lopez, who also scored Clark’s first goal Saturday, had seven goals and six assists in the team’s five postseason matches.

“He is so skillful, speedy, a striker, just a finisher,” Chavez said. “I hope UNLV or one of these colleges gives him a chance. When he stepped up and became a captain for us after the first half of the season, our whole season changed. The way he dealt with pressure was amazing.”

Lopez got Clark (17-6-1) on the board off a pass by Oscar Mata 10 minutes in. The Roadrunners (16-9-2) responded five minutes later when Joel Velazquez converted a free kick for a 1-1 tie.

“We played well enough,” Tech coach Josh Jones said. “They scored on two counterattacks that we didn’t defend very well.”

Tech, which had to beat Desert Pines in its final regular-season match just to make the playoffs, made a remarkable run through the Southern Region tournament as a No. 4 seed and was gunning for its third state title in four years.

“There are no regrets or disappointments,” Jones said. “We had to rally just to get here.”

Clark was making its first state tournament appearance since 2012, when the Chargers’ 12 seniors were freshmen.

“I’m really happy for Clark and for these kids,” said Chavez, who also led Clark to the state tournament in 2008. “I’m just so happy for them.”

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