High School Sports

Prep soccer: McLane boys end 45-year title drought

After 46 years, another 20 minutes wasn’t going to faze the McLane High boys soccer team.

Juan Flores scored the go-ahead goal in the 91st minute, and Sergio Gonzalez added an insurance goal just before the final whistle to lift the top-seeded Highlanders over No. 3 Kerman 5-3 in overtime for the Central Section Division IV title.

It’s McLane’s first section boys soccer championship since the program launched in 1971, according to section historian Bob Barnett.

“It feels amazing to be the first ones to bring Valley to McLane,” Flores said. “This is big.”

After McLane (23-5-1) let leads of 2-0 and 3-1 slip away in the second half, Flores, the Highlanders’ leading scorer, tallied his 27th goal of the season for the winner.

Flores received a through-ball from Emerson Hernandez and raced all alone down the center of the field past the Kerman defense for a one-on-one against goalkeeper Sergio Dorado. When Dorado shaded to Flores’ left, he buried it low and to the right for a 4-3 lead.

“It was an amazing ball by my boy Emerson,” Flores said. “I saw no one around me, so I went full speed to the goalie. He showed me one side, and I went to the other.”

Gonzalez, who had failed to convert several earlier scoring opportunities, was on the mark in the 99th minute when he controlled a cross from Andres Nunez and scored for a two-goal edge.

“I knew I needed to put one in. I’d been shooting all day, and they were not falling,” said Gonzalez, a senior who scored his 19th goal of the season. “There was no way I was not going to turn around and shoot that ball.

“This is something I’ll never forget. I’ll always support the boys here. I hope they win it again next year.”

McLane, which earlier this season captured its first North Yosemite League title since 1979, bolted out to a 2-0 lead. Ivan Alanis scored in the 18th minute, then Flores hammered home a goal off a deflected shot in the 21st.

Kerman (17-9-2) closed to 2-1 early in the second half on a goal by Manuel Lopez, but the Highlanders regained a two-goal edge when Flores fed Hernandez for a goal in the 65th.

The Lions, who were seeking their third section title, responded with goals in the 66th and 68th minutes by Oscar Chavez (from Roberto Alvarez) and Felipe Garcia.

Both teams had good looks in the final 10 minutes of regulation but couldn’t push a goal through.

McLane was making its second consecutive trip to the D-IV final. The Highlanders lost 2-1 to Washington last season.

“I’m so proud of these young men,” McLane coach Ramiro Teran said. “They accomplished all of our goals. When we went to overtime, I knew we had the legs to win. We were well-prepared. This means a lot to our school. I’m thankful to every person here who got to witness something special and historic.”

McLane now will wait until March 6 to see whether its season continues when the pairing for the five-division CIF Southern California Regionals are announced.

Nick Giannandrea: 559-441-6103, @NickG_FB

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