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I-A BOYS SOCCER: Roadrunners set tone early, punch ticket to state

Tech’s boys soccer team struggled this season, needing to win its last two regular season matches just to qualify for the playoffs.

Despite those early struggles, the Roadrunners punched a ticket to the Division I-A state tournament with a 2-1 victory over Sunrise Mountain in the Southern Region semifinals Thursday at Bettye Wilson Park.

Tech (15-7-2) plays Clark (14-6-1) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Bettye Wilson for the region title.

“This feels good after the roller-coaster season we’ve had this year,” Tech coach Josh Jones said. “We started out pretty well in the preseason tournament, but then we had some key injuries. We needed to win our last two games just to make the playoffs, and we got the job done. Now we are on a winning streak heading into the regional finals.”

The Roadrunners wanted to get out to a fast start against the Miners to get some early confidence, and they certainly did as Eduardo Gomez scored 30 seconds into the match.

Tech added another goal at the 12-minute mark when Jaime Diaz scored from about 45 yards out to push the lead to 2-0.

“We focus on playing an aggressive, high-pressure style, and we want to set the tone right from the beginning,” Jones said. “We did an excellent job at that today.”

After those early goals, Roadrunners goalkeeper Tyler Harvey and their defense kept the Miners (13-3-2) at bay. Harvey made seven saves before Jose Arreola scored at the 70-minute mark. Harvey actually stopped the initial shot, but the ball bounced around in the box before Arreola was able to take advantage.

“Our keeper is one of the better keepers in the game,” Jones said. “He had some awesome saves, and he kept us in the game last week against Western. That goal tonight really wasn’t his fault. When you have a solid keeper who can command the box like he does, he will keep you in the game.

Harvey, who had a groin injury early this season, is finally starting to get back to full strength.

“I just know I had one job, and that is keeping the ball out of the net,” Harvey said. “Right away, when we scored those early goals, we knew had set the tempo we wanted and it was our game.”

Now, the Roadrunners, who have been in playoff mode for two weeks, turn their attention to Clark.

“Once we knew what we had to do before our last two games, every game was a playoff for us, and we’ve had to win every single game to get to here,” Harvey said. “We just need to keep our heads in it and make sure that we are always improving, take practice seriously, and just keep doing what we are doing.”

Clark 7, Spring Valley 0 — Ivan Lopez, Oscar Mata and Juan Sanchez-Moran each scored two goals to lead the Chargers past the Grizzlies (9-9-1).

Eduardo Martinez also scored for Clark, and Lopez had three assists.

Jose Puentes made four saves to preserve the shutout.

“What happened today is basically we wanted to prove, one to ourselves that first game we lost against Spring Valley was just a fluke — we didn’t have enough players to play that game — and that we can score,” Chavez said. “If you can’t score, then you’re not going to win. Today we proved that we could score, and I think we’re ready.”

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