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Tech boys soccer team brings success from Class 3A to 4A

Tech never wanted to move to Class 4A. Not really.

Yes, Tech’s was among the principals who came to a consensus on the current alignment, but it seemed even then as if Tech was falling on the sword for the betterment of the city’s sports. The Roadrunners even appealed — unsuccessfully — to be moved back to 3A.

So Tech held its nose, closed its eyes and plunged into Nevada’s largest classification of high school athletics. And the results could not have been better so far.

The boys soccer team is 7-2-2, ranked No. 7 among 4A schools. Last week, it picked up perhaps the signature win in school history by any sport: a 2-1 road win over defending Sunset Region champion Bishop Gorman.

“That’s the team of the city. That’s who everybody knows,” senior defender Alan Garcia said. “It shows that we’re not just some team that you can rub off. We’re a competitor in this league.”

You’ll be forgiven for not knowing how good the Roadrunners were before this season. The school does not get much attention because it does not have a football team and neither of its basketball teams have had a winning record since its girls team went 14-9 in 2007-08.

Soccer is a different story. The Roadrunners reached the 3A state tournament last year, the fourth time in the past six years they have done so, and won state titles in 2012 and 2013. The girls team also reached the state tournament last season.

Whether the rest of the school’s teams follow suit in 4A success remain to be seen. But the boys soccer team has proven that a small charter school with an enrollment almost half of some of its competition can compete with the state’s elite.

“I think it definitely does validate what we’re trying to do,” coach Josh Jones said of the win over Gorman. “We’re trying to be the best.”

Part of the team’s strength is that it does not have one elite scorer. The Southern Nevada leader in scoring is Western’s Juan Estrada with 17 goals, and the 4A leader is 16 by Joel Sanchez of Desert Pines.

Tech’s leader is Alex Meija and Alan Lopez with five each.

“We all work together to complete the objective, we don’t rely on one certain player to score all the goals for us,” senior forward Eduardo Gomez said. “We play as a team, we do everything as a team, and we make sure it stays that way and never depend on one player.”

Fifteen Roadrunners have scored, with two more getting on the board with assists. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that keeper Yobani Garcia-Benitez leads Southern Nevada with six shutouts.

Tech’s practice this week was upbeat, riding the high of the Gorman win while knowing the work is far from done. It doesn’t get any easier from here for the Roadrunners. Defending state champion Coronado awaits them Thursday, with Durango on Sept. 27.

Playoffs will be a gauntlet in a way the 3A postseason wasn’t. But Jones isn’t worried. He knew what his team was up against, and it looks as if the Roadrunners are ready.

“The Gorman game was great, but it was just one game,” Jones said. “We have a lot more games to play before the end of the season.

“We’re trying to play as many tough opponents to build up so we’re ready for the playoffs when they come around.”

Contact Justin Emerson at jemerson@reviewjournal.com or (702) 387-2944. Follow @J15Emerson on Twitter.

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