Salvador Garcia didn’t try to hide his emotions Saturday during the Division I-A Southern Region boys soccer final at Heritage Park.
With his school’s first region championship at stake, the senior admittedly held back tears when the Roadrunners completed a 3-0 victory over Clark.
“It’s unbelievable,” Garcia said. “I never expected it like this. I knew we were going to have a great season because we had a great preseason. We practiced really hard to get up to here.”
Tech (21-0), whose season had ended four straight years on 2-1 losses in the playoffs, executed on timely offensive opportunities and held the Chargers (13-6-1) at bay with stellar defense.
“It feels great,” Tech coach Josh Jones said. “It’s been unbelievable. I would have never imagined we would be undefeated at this point. These guys worked hard all summer, and most of them have been on varsity since their freshman year. They’re probably the most unselfish team.”
After the Roadrunners missed a golden opportunity on a penalty kick midway through the first half, senior midfielder Rafael Valdez converted a perfect cross pass from Hugo Flores in the 32nd minute. Dribbling up the left side of the field, Flores found Valdez, who slipped through two defenders and drilled a shot into the left side of the net.
“Our game plan was to play the ball wide and touch the ball as much as possible,” Jones said.
With Tech increasing its pressure in the box, a Clark defender tripped Garcia in the 47th minute. Awarded a penalty kick, Garcia sliced the ball past the Chargers’ diving goalkeeper for a 2-0 edge.
“I was just ready,” Garcia said. “I knew exactly where to put the ball.”
With nine minutes left, Garcia knocked in an insurance goal on a give-and-go pass from Rafael Munoz.
Jones credited Tech’s strong showing to its defense, which stalled Clark’s attack on multiple occasions.
“Our back three are solid,” Jones said. “For the past week and a half, we’ve been working on clearing the ball right away. All three of them go hard, and they’re strong in the air.”
Tech goalkeeper Christian Mojarro earned the shutout with four saves.
Clark also will compete in next weekend’s state tournament.In-depth high school sports coverage