A tale of 2 teams, 1 school…and 5 more hours of soccer

One school.  Two great stories.

Any way you look at it, Corona del Sol High School in Tempe essentially doubled its odds of bringing home a state title in soccer.  Its boys and girls teams have both advanced to today’s 5A-I championship games at Campo Verde HS.

And they definitely took different paths to get there.

The girls team was the 15th seed (out of 16) coming into the playoffs and had to upset No. 2 Gilbert HS to just get past the opening round.  Then they squeezed past No. 10 Mesquite HS in a 1-0 nail-biter, only to face No. 6 Desert Vista HS in the semis.  It took a double overtime and a 6-5 penalty kick shootout to finally overcome the Thunder and keep their Cinderella story alive.

The reward?  A title game against powerhouse Xavier Prep, the No. 1 seed and last year’s state champion.  Xavier blew through its first two games, 7-0 and 6-0, but struggled in the semis against Highland HS, winning that game 1-0 on a goal by Sam Cummings with just 16 seconds left on the clock.   So Corona might be catching the Gators at a good time.  They have come down from the confidence high that comes with blow-out wins.

Should the Aztecs pull this one off, it may be the first time a 15th seeded team has climbed all the way to the title.  At least in recent memory.

Meanwhile, a the semi-final victory by the Corona del Sol boys team marks the first time in 16 years that they have made it to a championship game.

Unlike the girls, the boys didn’t sneak up on anyone.  Sporting a 22-2-1 record, the boys’ team was seeded fifth and outscored its first three opponents, 12-3, allowing no more than one goal in each game.  The Aztecs beat No. 1  Salpointe Catholic HS, 3-1, to get to the title game against Hamilton HS.

The boys use a patient, controlled offense to perfection, never seeming to be in a hurry.  In the semi-final against Salpointe, they methodically worked their way through a scoreless first half and then began their steady, aggressive move to the net just after the second half started.  Trever Allen got the scoring started and then accounted for two of the team’s three goals to lead the assault on the top-seeded Lancers, 23-5 on the season and undefeated in conference play.

Hamilton, too, is coming off a win via a penalty shoot-out, beating No. 6 Gilbert, 2-1.  It was the second playoff game that Hamilton had to take to overtime to win.

That may prove to have been physically taxing for the Huskies.  Or it may prepare them for what is sure to be a challenging title game.

The Corona del Sol student body and fans have a long afternoon and evening ahead as they cheer on first the girls and then the boys in the 6:00 pm finale.

Two contrasting styles.  One team tested under fire, the other waiting to be tested.  Both on a mission.