LASALLE — It took two extra days, two fields in two cities and then two 10-minute extra periods, but it was all worth if for the Rock Island boys' soccer team.
A goal by sophomore Alejandro Torres 48 seconds into the second 10-minute overtime period gave the Rocks a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Pirates in the title game of the Class 2A Ottawa Regional on Monday. The victory gives Rock Island a first-ever regional boys' soccer title.
The win also sends the Rocks (14-1-3) into today's Galesburg Sectional against Dunlap (17-2-2).
"It mean so much," Torres said. "All the work we put in to get this for our seniors."
One of those seniors, Isaac Almanza, assisted on the Torres goal and also had a goal in regulation. That came on Saturday at King Field in Ottawa before the game was stopped with 19:08 left because of the playing field. The game then finished Monday afternoon at LaSalle-Peru High School Sports Complex.
"To get the first regional championship means everything to us," said Almanza, who was a key part of the 2017 Western Big 6 Conference co-champs that were upset by Joliet West in the regional final. "This is for the city, the team, our families and for the 2017 team."
RI coach Rudy Almanza was emotional when he talked after the win.
"We always talk about playing for the team," Coach Almanza said. "In this case, we were playing for all of Rocktown. I'm sorry, but I am emotional about this being for the 'Town and everyone who believes in the red and gold."
Much like that game against Joliet West, the Rocks were stymied by a team that didn't push the play much, rather playing defense and hoping to get a few breaks.
"This was very much like Joliet West and last year against Pekin," Coach Almanza said. "They kept everyone back in the back 18 (yards) and tried to keep us from scoring. We just kept waiting to get a ball on someone's feet and have a chance to make a play."
The Rocks finally got that when Isaac Almanza battled through what he thought was a foul and got the ball to Torres. After that, the sophomore did the rest.
"I was trying to get into the box and find a teammate," Torres said. "I saw a little opening and flicked the ball by him to an open spit where I shot it. I knew it was going in. After that, it felt like a long time for those last nine minutes to get to zero."
Added Isaac Almanza, "We were frustrated the last two years in the regionals. Once Ali put that ball in, we were determined to play our best defense and not give them a chance."
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