Eldorado tops Palo Verde to claim first title

As his team celebrated its state championship win over Palo Verde, Eldorado boys soccer coach Gerald Pentsil wasn’t sure what to say.

He knew what to do, though, when he was handed his state championship medal, giving it back to the assistant coach who gave it to him.

Israel Hernandez scored twice to lead the Sundevils to a 2-0 win in the Division I title match in Carson City, the first state title in boys soccer for Eldorado, which was playing in its first championship game since Pentsil’s fifth season at the school in 1994.

“I’m at a loss for words right now,” Pentsil said. “It’s my first one after 25 years. Words don’t describe it.”

Hernandez was similarly speechless. “It just feels great,” the junior said.

Pentsil was upset by the Sundevils’ performance in the second half in Friday’s semifinal against Spanish Springs, but he had no complaints about his team’s effort for 80 minutes Saturday.

“Yes, and a tougher opponent, too,” he said. “We did what we had to do to win.”

Hernandez’s first goal, off an assist by Chris Perez on a corner kick in the 26th minute, came as the teams traded forays.

“He has been doing that all year, and I’m just proud of him because sometimes he wanders and I get on his case, then he’ll come through and score the big goal,” Pentsil said.

The Sundevils (21-0-2) got their edge as the second half became more chippy.

Palo Verde (20-1-1) played much of the second half a man short after a red card.

“When you’re down a man, and you’re having to sell out to try to score, what do you expect?” Palo Verde coach Kevin Hagood said. “You’re probably going to get beat on counterattacks, and, sure enough, the second goal went in.”

Hernandez’s second goal came on a breakaway in the 52nd minute.

“It’s my first year playing high school,” Hernandez said, “and we won state.”

Tech had experienced a little bit of everything while trying to repeat as Division I-A state champion.

The Roadrunners were targeted by opponents who wanted to knock off the reigning champs, dealt with serious injuries and even lost their home field to major sinkholes.

And none of it derailed them.

Derian Salcido scored two goals to lead Tech to its second straight Division I-A state title with a 4-1 win over Sunrise Mountain in Dayton.

“It feels very good,” Tech coach Josh Jones said. “We’ve had an up-and-down year, but the last five games of the season I felt like we really came together.

“We’re used to playing on neutral sites. We haven’t had a home field for most of the year. We’ve just had that chip on our shoulder of we’ll play anyone, anywhere, any time.”

The Roadrunners (19-5-4) scored three times in the final 29 minutes of the first half to take a 3-0 lead into halftime.

Julio Vargas had a goal and two assists, and Julio Del Real added a goal and an assist for Tech, which took a 4-0 lead early in the second half.

Luis Falcon scored late in the second half for the Miners (11-6-2).

“We made school history by going as far as we did in the playoffs,” Sunrise Mountain coach Brett Underwood said. “We’re going to put the first trophy in our school’s trophy case. No one is hanging their head.”

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