Clark boys soccer coach Juan Chavez doesn’t miss a chance to talk about how much Ivan Lopez has meant to his team’s success this year.
And the Chargers’ senior forward is giving his coach more and more reasons to offer high praise.
Lopez had a hand in all three of his team’s goals, and scored the match-winner 12 minutes, 45 seconds into the second overtime Saturday to lift Clark to a 3-2 win over Tech in the Division I-A Southern Region boys soccer final at Bettye Wilson Park. Both teams advance to the state tournament, which begins next weekend in Northern Nevada.
“The whole season just changed when we made Ivan Lopez our captain,” said Chavez, whose team won its first region title and will play in the state tournament for the third time in eight years. “He took this whole team and just put this hunger in everybody. When that happened, that showed me we had a championship team.”
After Tech tied the match with 7:25 left in regulation and the teams played a scoreless 15-minute overtime period, Clark (15-6-1) had a pair of good scoring chances in the first eight minutes of the second overtime.
But Roadrunners goalkeeper Tyler Harvey made two big saves to keep the match alive before the Chargers made the decisive run upfield.
“We had a lot of opportunities, and we missed a lot of goals,” Chavez said. “We started feeling a little pressure. We just had to realize we would get more chances.”
Juan Sanchez-Moran fired a pass up the right side of the field to Eduardo Martinez, who raced into the corner of the box and crossed a pass to the left side where Lopez was waiting in open space to poke the shot past Harvey to a end a marathon match. Lopez had five goals and five assists in the region tournament.
“It was fitting,” Chavez said. “It took him to wake everybody up. Every single player on our team knows that Ivan is the one who turned our season around.”
Tech (16-7-2) took advantage of a defensive mistake by the Chargers to score the first goal of the match when Grant Samayoa stole the ball at the top of the box, walked around a Clark defender and scored into the lower left corner just past the 20-minute mark of the first half.
The Chargers came out on fire in the second half, though, scoring twice in the first 10 minutes to take a 2-1 lead.
On a counter-attack after a Tech corner kick, Lopez set up Oscar Mata on the left wing. Mata tucked the ball inside the right post just 2:18 into the half to tie the match.
Less than eight minutes later, Lopez streaked in on the right side and crossed a pass near the goal. Harvey got both hands on the ball, but couldn’t control it, and Clark’s Eduardo Martinez buried the rebound for a 2-1 lead.
The Roadrunners got the equalizer late when a throw-in deflected off a Clark defender and came to Jesus Reyes-Sandoval for a 20-yard shot that he placed into the right side of the net.
“Tech is a good team, and if I was in their spot, I would want a rematch,” Chavez said. “I love playing them. I hope we can do it again at state.”