LYNN— Classical boys soccer coach Eric Moreno Jr. knew exactly what to expect from his father’s Tech Tigers in Saturday’s City Tournament championship game.
Moreno Jr. knew it’d be a chess match that would come down to which team converted on its opportunities.
In a game where scoring chances were few and far between, Classical rode Jenner Robles Sandoval’s second-half goal to a 1-0 win. Robles Sandoval was named tournament MVP.
“I knew we had to grind,” Moreno Jr. said. “If we converted on our opportunity, I knew we’d stay disciplined with the lead.
“I’m really proud of the boys, winning our second City Tournament in a row. None of this is possible without having a great group of kids at the end of the day.”
Rams goalie Isiah Diaz logged his second shutout of the season.
“He’s growing up before our eyes to be honest,” Moreno Jr. said. “He’s filling some big shoes but he’s already proven when that save comes he can make it. He made two big saves in the top corner. I was very impressed. He has the height, he has the frame, he has everything working for him. When he gets that confidence, that’s when he’s really going to flourish.”
The first half was fairly quiet for both offenses. Classical’s Brian Morales made noise 30 minutes into the first half. Morales sent a free kick to the post, just missing on giving his Rams the lead. In the closing minutes of the half, Brian Barrera drew Diaz out of goal and sent a slow roller toward the net. But Classical’s defense caught up with the ball and kicked it away from the net to keep the game scoreless- where it stood at the midway break.
“We had a tough week,” Tech coach Eric Moreno Sr. said. “We played a tough English team Wednesday, we played a tough Shawsheen team Thursday and a tough Classical team Saturday. I’m very pleased with the way we played. Unfortunately we couldn’t find the back of the net. But I’m pleased with how we played.
“We couldn’t find the back of the net,” Moreno Sr. said. “Brian had the ball away from the goalie at the end of the half but the Classical defender stopped it. Then (later in the game) Ashby Murphy had a nice shot that hit the post.”
Classical’s offense livened up a bit in the early stages of the second half. Three minutes into the period, Fernando Gomez Godinez kept Tech goalie Jesson Alarcon on his toes with a shot from 30 yards out. Alarcon made the save. A little over a minute later, Robles Sandoval found space and put the ball in the back of the net for the 1-0 Rams lead.
“I said ‘let’s pressure’ and that’s what we did,” Moreno Jr. said. “We pressured hard and I knew the goal would come eventually. It was a different look for them. Alex Ixlaj, when he’s attacking he has a lot of speed. We decided to go with him as a center-forward and that worked out for us.”
That was all the support Classical’s defense needed for the 1-0 win. Classical (2-0) hosts Salem Monday (4).
“We love to stay ahead of the state tournament berth,” Moreno Jr. said. “These are City Tournament games but they count toward your record. We’re excited to see Salem Monday and start looking toward our next objective, which is winning another NEC title.”
Tech (0-2-1) travels to Greater Lawrence Tuesday (4).
“We need to spend a little more time on finishing,” Moreno Sr. said. “We need to look for the true striker. Right now our offense looks good the way we’re playing but for some reason we don’t have that one player who can finish every single time and help us score a lot of goals.”