Douglas boys soccer falls in state finals
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Douglas High’s soccer team was all set to put a triumphant end to its Cinderella run through the zone and state playoffs.
Only one problem, Bishop Gorman didn’t cooperate.
The Gaels held the Tigers to seven shots on goal, and Nick Eary scored in the 63rd minute, as defending champion Gorman grabbed a 1-0 win in the NIAA 4A state soccer championship game Saturday afternoon at Damonte Ranch High School.
Douglas ended a successful season with a 20-5-1 record, and coach Milko Vasquez tipped his hat to his players.
“They had high goals,” Vasquez said. “They were trying real hard to go to state. To see that felt beautiful.
“We did as well as we could do (given the circumstances). We had six guys that were either out or playing injured. They were doing what they could. They (Gorman) were the better team. They have quite a few ODP (Olympic Development Players) players on their roster.”
Vasquez praised the play and leadership of guys like goalie Jose Alcarez, Kyle Gardner, Eduardo Vega, Oscar Gonzalez, Geoff Rahe, Jeffrey Crozier and Austin Shick.
Alcarez was like a rock in goal, collecting 10 saves against a relentless Bishop Gorman attack.
“He played with a lot of heart,” Vasquez said of Alcarez. “He’s a very good player. He kept the maturity in the back. He kept us in it.”
Indeed. Gorman outshot Douglas 7-0 in the first half. It was typical of Gorman’s season – many good opportunities but no scoring.
Austin Cain stole a ball deep in Douglas territory in the 21st minute, but was unable to control his dribble and never got a shot off. Five minutes later, John Vaccaro got a cross, but misfired. Eary had a header in the 26th minute that went over the crossbar.
Eary always felt it was a matter of time before the Gaels broke through for a score.
“The whole year we’ve been struggling to score,” Eary said. “We’ve had chances, but haven’t finished.”
Gorman’s frustrations continued in the early part of the second half, as Alcarez turned back three more shots in the first 11 minutes.
With 23 minutes left, Douglas had its best opportunity of the match, but failed to finish on two shots from close range.
With about 17 minutes left, Eary finally finished for what turned out to be the game-winner. He had the game-winning shot in last year’s title game, too.
“I just ran to the back of the box,” Eary said. “I was in the right place at the right time.”
“He has the ability to find the crease and finish,” Gorman coach Nick Arbalaez said. “He scored the game winning goal last year.”
Douglas played much better in the second half, getting seven shots on goal. It appeared the Tigers were much more aggressive.
“Not taking anything away from Douglas because they are a good team, but we were not tracking back and that gave them opportunities,” Arbalaez said. “We are lucky that we got our goal before we made our first mistake. We had so many opportunities to put the game away early.
“No one in Vegas has ever won back-to-back titles since my dad did it in 1996-87 with the girls team.”