Blink and you might’ve missed it.

Warren Central senior forward Jimmy Estrada needed less than a minute – 21 seconds, to be precise – to score the game’s only goal and lift the Dragons to a 1-0 victory over South Warren in the District 14 boys’ soccer tournament championship Wednesday at Bowling Green Junior High School.

Estrada’s stunning move came off the game’s opening possession, when he corralled the ball on the run down the right sideline, turned in toward the penalty box and sliced a shot past Spartans goalkeeper Tayshaun Jones that found the left corner of the net.

“You could tell in the first half, we had a little more energy just starting off that way,” Warren Central coach Aaron Ray said. “I’ve never seen a goal that quick. It just kind of lifted our spirits, let us know that we can play with this team. That’s one of the best teams in the state right there, and getting it right away just gave us all the confidence in the world.”

The second-seeded Dragons entered Wednesday’s championship match as the defending tournament and Region 4 champions, but South Warren had dealt them a 3-1 loss Sept. 17 in the only regular-season meeting.

The Spartans rolled into the game with a 10-0-1 record, with that win over the Dragons among the tally, but Warren Central (7-3) served notice that it had no intention of surrendering the district crown without a fight.

Estrada, who was named the District 14 Tournament’s Most Valuable Player after also tallying two assists in Tuesday’s 2-0 district semifinal win over Greenwood, took care of the scoring by himself Wednesday night.

“It was just a poor decision,” Spartans coach Tom Alexander said. “When you have a player like Jimmy that you give freedom to run, and we don’t win the first ball and then we don’t step, and then let him run past us, and then he’s free. He’s gonna score. We know we’ve got to do a better job on that.”

Both teams advance to the Region 4 tournament at Greenwood, which starts Saturday with four quarterfinal games. The draw and meeting – both to be done virtually – is scheduled Friday morning.

The Spartans steadily pressed their attack after Estrada’s quick-strike score, outshooting the Dragons 9-6 in the first half.

Warren Central occasionally countered in the second half, but settled into a defensive mindset as the minutes ticked off the clock. South Warren still outshot the Dragons 7-3 over the final 40 minutes, but Warren Central effectively denied many solid scoring opportunities.

Dragons goalkeeper Erick Nzoribala finished with seven saves. Jones tallied six saves for the Spartans.

“We’re trying to be a defensive team,” Ray said. “We’ve kind of been a defensive team for the past four years, so these seniors are used to giving their all to secure the win.”{&end}

– Follow sports editor Jeff Nations on Twitter @Jeff_NationsBG or visit bgdailynews.com.

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