Gallegos lifts La Joya past Verrado in holiday tourney

His Avondale La Joya boys soccer coaches keep telling Luis Gallegos he needs to take more chances, be more confident and shoot at will.

After netting a pair of goals in his team’s biggest win of the season, Gallegos might start taking that advice to heart.

The junior had both of his team’s scores in regulation and goalkeeper Edmundo Parra came off the bench late as La Joya knocked off Buckeye Verrado, 3-2, on penalty kicks to advance to the final of the Liberty IBN Holiday Tournament. Jose Camacho converted on his team’s sixth penalty to capture the win, earning La Joya (6-6-1) a berth in today’s final against Phoenix Alhambra, which beat Goodyear Desert Edge 2-0 earlier in the day.

Gallegos, who staked La Joya to a 2-0 first-half edge, said he’s been trying to put that advice into action.

“I need to keep my head up and keep shooting,” Gallegos said. “Eventually, they’ll go in. I have to have that confidence to know that I’m a scorer. I doubt myself a lot.”

Gallegos scored in the 11th minute from Jose Suarez on a header, than added another in the 29th minute from Juan Cano.

But Verrado (9-2), which was undefeated until a 3-1 loss on Thursday to Alhambra, responded with a big second half as Hector Berrueta scored on a header midway through the second half, and Anthony Mirajes tied it with less than 13 minutes to play.

Knowing the contest might go to penalty kicks, La Joya coach Jesus Cardiel-Pacheco swapped former starting goalie Parra in for Elias Covian.

According to Cardiel-Pacheco, Covian had lost the job with some shaky play earlier this season, but has been better on PKs in the past. He stopped three when it counted, including one off the foot of Verrado’s Christian Arenas that caromed off the keeper’s hand and hit the crossbar.

“His head wasn’t all there before, and the team wasn’t trusting him,” Cardiel-Pacheco said. “So I was so glad to see this because now the team has that trust in him again.”

As for Verrado, it needs to regroup after following its season-opening nine-game winning streak with consecutive losses.

“We have an easy schedule out here on the west side,” Verrado coach Ted Campbell said. “We don’t play a lot of really good teams. This shows us we have some work to do. We’re a good team, but we’re not a final eight team, and that’s what we want to be.”

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