Esau Salazar didn’t expect to be a goalkeeper in Silverado’s biggest soccer match of the season.
Aside from experimenting in practice, the senior forward hadn’t been in goal all season.
On Saturday, though, Salazar looked like a seasoned veteran, filling in for senior Joey Mora and helping the Skyhawks defeat Eldorado on penalty kicks, 6-5, in the Class 4A Sunrise Region final at Bettye Wilson Park.
“I felt really nervous at first, but I knew I had to do it for my team,” Salazar said.
The teams were tied at 1 after two overtimes. After both teams made 4-of-5 penalty kicks, Silverado won on the second round of sudden-death kicks.
Silverado (16-2-3), the state runner-up last season, will play Douglas in a state semifinal at 6 p.m. Friday at Damonte Ranch High School in Reno.
Mora received a red card midway through the second half after tackling a Sundevil forward who was breaking in for a shot.
“Esau is a good athlete,” Silverado coach John Cwik said. “He’s a senior and he’s smart. I figured he’d rise to the challenge.”
Salazar traded in his No. 8 jersey for the goalkeeper’s top. His first big save came on a rebound of a shot that hit the crossbar late in the first overtime.
“I didn’t expect playing goalie to be that hard,” Salazar said.
In the shootout, Salazar made a diving save on Eldorado’s third penalty kick.
In the second round of sudden death, Eldorado’s shot caromed away after hitting the right goal post. Silverado freshman Kyle McKenna’s low shot inside the right post clinched the win.
Silverado took a 1-0 lead midway through the first half on a goal by Kyle Mellies but was outshot 26-7 in the final 60 minutes of regulation and the two overtimes.
Eldorado (15-4-1) tied the match early in the second half on Rene Ardon’s goal.
“They outplayed us and deserved the chance to win the game,” Cwik said. “For whatever reason, someone was smiling on us today.”Preps Central