When Luis Chaidez one day looks back on Thursday’s Sunset Region semifinal soccer game, he’ll probably forget the first 78 minutes.
The 79th minute, however, was one he’ll remember for life.
Chaidez overcame an evening of frustration by nailing the game-winner from 18 yards out with less than two minutes remaining, lifting Legacy to a 2-1 victory over Bonanza at Bettye Wilson Park.
The Longhorns will play for their first regional championship Saturday when they meet Bishop Gorman at 12:30 p.m.
“I was just waiting for the ball,” said Chaidez, who scored on an assist from Eric Bojado. “I knew he was going to pass it to me. I just tried to stay calm, and I put it in.”
Legacy (17-1-1) had multiple opportunities to put the game away but failed to convert each time.
“That goal was a big relief because we wasted so many chances,” Chaidez said.
Though the Bengals (17-3) controlled the ball throughout most of the first half, the Longhorns took a 1-0 lead into halftime courtesy of an unassisted goal by Gerardo Reynoso in the 14th minute.
“We kind of broke the seal with that first goal,” Legacy coach Jose Gomez said. “Whoever scores first usually holds the edge.”
But Bonanza’s Robert Sagel tied it early in the second half on a goal assisted by Sergio Rodriguez.
Both teams had good looks down the stretch, but the score remained tied until Chaidez and Bojado broke away to score the final goal.
“When you start the season, you always set goals,” Gomez said. “Now we’re going to the championship game. This is an opportunity we haven’t had, and I couldn’t be more excited.”
Bishop Gorman 3, Palo Verde 2 — The Gaels (17-0-1) survived a wild second half, and a goal by Shane Thompson helped secure a win over the Panthers (13-2-3).
Gorman dominated the first half and appeared to have the game in hand when Rian McEvoy and Thompson scored to give the Gaels a 2-0 lead.
But Palo Verde’s Matej Kustura tapped one in from close range midway through the second half to make it 2-1.
The Gaels regained a two-goal advantage when Thompson scored after Blake Balelo’s header ricocheted off the crossbar to land 10 yards in front of the net.
Kustura scored again a minute later to cut the Panthers’ deficit to 3-2. Teammate Alexander Shackley nearly tied it in the 65th minute, but his open shot sailed high.
Gorman goalkeeper Thomas Olsen made two key saves in the final five minutes to help his team hold on for the win.