SUNRISE SOCCER: Marquez finishes strong as Gators oust Wildcats

Victor Marquez didn’t start Thursday’s region semifinal.

But Green Valley’s senior goalkeeper certainly made his presence known.

Marquez made four saves in the final 85 minutes of regulation and two overtimes, then made two key saves in a penalty-kick shootout to help the Gators earn a 1-1 tie with Las Vegas in the Sunrise Region semifinals at Heritage Park.

Green Valley (13-8-3) won the penalty-kick shootout, 3-0 to advance to the region final against Eldorado (18-0-2) at noon Saturday.

“He was special today,” Green Valley coach Jacob Rivera said of Marquez. “He worked his butt off.”

Marquez replaced starting goalkeeper Bryant Peralta 25 minutes into the match with the score already tied at 1-1 on goals by Green Valley’s Daniel Mojica and Las Vegas’ Danny Nunez.

“Bryant has been here all year, but Victor is taller and takes command of the box a little better,” Rivera said. “He got eligible at the end of the quarter, and we feel like he gives us the best chance to win.”

Marquez didn’t make his first save until beyond the midway point of the second half, but late in the half robbed the Wildcats’ Danny Nunez from 15 yards out after a defensive lapse by the Gators.

Marquez made one save in each of the two 15-minute overtimes, but saved his best work for the shootout.

After Green Valley’s Roberto Rodriguez scored on the first penalty kick, Marquez dived to stop a shot by Las Vegas’ Ricardo Guzman.

Scott Schofield gave the Gators a 2-0 advantage in the shootout before Marquez made a slightly easier save on a shot to the right side of the goal.

Both teams missed the frame in the third round before Breno Rocha converted to give the Gators an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the shootout.

Las Vegas finished 12-6-4.

Eldorado 6, Canyon Springs 1 — Andres Lua scored twice in a three-minute span in the first half and tacked on a goal with five minutes left in the match to help the Sundevils top the Pioneers.

Canyon Springs (9-7-3) drew first blood on a Jonathan Martinez goal just 10 minutes into the match, but it took Lua only two minutes and some sweet moves to steal the momentum away for good.

After a lead pass from Chris Perez, Lua stepped around three defenders before drilling a left-footed shot from 18 yards out into the net to tie the match.

“I just stepped up and scored it,” Lua said. “We needed to score because if we fall back, they were going to score another goal, and it would be harder to come back and win the game.”

Three minutes later, the same duo struck with Perez chipping a pass to Lua on the right side of the goal. Lua touched the ball past Canyon Springs goalkeeper Raymond Ruano to give the Sundevils the lead for good.

Eldorado, which passed extremely well all game, extended the advantage to 3-1 on a goal by Perez just past the midway point of the half.

Lua had three golden opportunities to score in the first four minutes of the second half, missing each post once and the crossbar on the third try — all by about a foot. He poked another shot wide with about 10 minutes to go before connecting again late in the match.

“We moved the ball well,” Eldorado coach Gerald Pentsil said. “We drill on passing; we spend maybe 45 minutes to an hour drilling on that. That’s how you win games. We have enough skill players who can possess the ball.”

Israel Hernandez and Victor Damian also scored for Eldorado, which will try for its third straight trip to the state tournament.

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