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Gaels boys soccer team beats Chargers when it matters — for Sunset Region title

Bishop Gorman’s boys soccer team couldn’t manage to beat Clark during the regular season.

But the Gaels won the most important matchup, knocking off Clark 2-0 in the Sunset Region championship game on Saturday at Bettye Wilson Park.

Clark beat Gorman 3-2 on Sept. 23, and the teams tied 3-all on Oct. 22.

“Clark is a good opponent and we struggled with them all year,” Gorman coach Nick Arbelaez said. “We peak at the right time. Playoff time is what matters. Seeding means nothing in the playoffs. It’s when you come here on the field that ultimately matters.”

The victory earned the two-time defending state champions a spot in next week’s Class 4A state tournament.

The Gaels took an early lead after forward Austin Cain was taken down in the penalty area in the 25th minute.

Cody Barnett scored on the ensuing penalty kick for a 1-0 lead.

Gorman took a 2-0 lead in the 46th minute when Cain broke behind the Chargers’ defense and beat the Clark goalkeeper.

“That forward is good,” Clark coach Juan Chavez said. “I think his speed surprised us.”

Gorman played a man down for the final 26 minutes after midfielder Sean Zaher received his second yellow card.

“These kids play with so much heart, and they wear their emotions on their sleeve,” Arbelaez said. “I can teach them all the skill in the world, but you can’t teach heart. These kids are the epitome of it, and they show it day in and day out.”

After Zaher’s red card the Gaels played a more defensive style with just one forward. It was the second game in a row Gorman has finished short-handed due to a red card.

“We got the red card, and after that it forced us,” Arbelaez said. “But you’ve got to give credit to these boys. It’s almost like we play better down a player than we do with all 11.”

Chavez said his team had trouble adjusting to Gorman’s more defensive style.

“One forward and everybody else plays defense, what kind of game is that?” Chavez said. “That just means they’re changing their system because they know they can’t beat us.”

Clark remains alive and will play Sunrise Region runner-up Eldorado at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Bettye Wilson for Southern Nevada’s final state berth.

“They’ll be ready,” Chavez said. “They saw fear today, and I think everybody else saw fear today from them. Gorman’s not used to showing fear.

“I think the kids are really upset and they want revenge. Hopefully we’ll get that wild card and we’ll beat them at state.”

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