Persistent Desert Pines tops Gaels in overtime

Cruz Cortes hasn't had many chances to score for Desert Pines' boys soccer team.

When the Jaguars defender had a rare opportunity in Friday's Class 4A state semifinal, he made good use of it.

Cortes took a deflection off a Bishop Gorman defender and buried it in the back of the net in the second overtime to lead the Jaguars past the Gaels 3-2 at Bettye Wilson Park, sending Desert Pines into its first state title match.

"All I saw was a ball in the air, and I saw Victor (Favela) going for it," Cortes said. "I knew I had a clear opportunity, and I yelled at him to let it go.

"I had the confidence in myself to put it in the back of the net. Trust was on the team, he let it slip through, and I got first touch into the back of the net."

The Jaguars (15-3-3) will play at 10 a.m. today in the final against Legacy, which dispatched Spanish Springs 2-0 in the other semifinal.

Desert Pines was outshot 4-1 through the first overtime but needed only one glancing blow from Cortes two minutes into the second extra period after a long free kick to win it. The Gaels outshot the Jaguars 17-8 in regulation.

But each time Gorman (18-2-1) scored, Desert Pines had an answer.

"No matter if we have no legs or no hands, we will still work," Desert Pines coach Judas Perez said. "Even if it takes us a thousand tries to get up, we will get up. They got it the right way."

Shane Thompson gave the Gaels a 1-0 halftime lead by slamming a free kick from 20 yards into the upper left corner of the net 30 minutes into the match.

Favela tied the score two minutes after the break, taking a pass from Francisco Lopez in the right side of the box and driving the ball past outstretched goalkeeper Thomas Olsen.

Gorman, which dominated possession through the second half and most of the match, slammed Desert Pines keeper Angel Guzman. The Gaels finally netted the go-ahead goal when Michael Gray put back a deflection after Thompson had a shot blocked by Guzman with seven minutes left in regulation.

Favela responded again for the Jaguars, striking on a counter attack with two minutes left in regulation. Alfredo Mendoza dished a pass over the Gorman defense to Favela, who slotted home the tying goal from inside the penalty box to send the match into overtime.

■ Legacy 2, Spanish Springs 0 -- Saul Aguirre had a goal and an assist to send the Longhorns past the Cougars.

Aguirre placed a perfect pass from the bottom left corner of the penalty box to teammate Stefan Skrinjaric, who redirected the ball home.

"When they gave me the pass, I was going to shoot it, but I saw one of my players was open," Aguirre said. "It was better to pass it to him because he had a better chance of scoring it."

The sophomore striker got the chance to score again, taking a pass from Julio Uribe at midfield and beating three Spanish Springs defenders for the shot to the left corner in the 67th minute.

It was a performance that summed up the season for Aguirre, who leads the team in goals and assists.

"A lot of people think he's one-dimensional as far as scoring, but he also led the team in assists," Legacy coach Jose Gomez said. "... He's very unselfish."

The Longhorns (19-1-1) outshot the Cougars 21-8, including a 9-4 margin in shots on goal.

Spanish Springs had a chance to tie the score in the first half when Emmanuel Medina's 28th-minute free kick from 16 yards was lofted high into the air and clutched by Legacy goalkeeper Ramon Carvajal, who claimed the shutout with four saves.

Contact reporter Sean Walker at or 702-383-0430.