First-round tournament play is generally pretty cut-and-dry. The high seeds are expected to advance because they open play against the lowest seeded teams. But once in a while, there are some unexpected developments.
The high school state soccer playoffs had a couple of first-round games that caught our attention, one on the boys’ side, the other in a girls’ match.
In 4A-II play, the defending girls champion, Notre Dame Prep, was handed an unexpected early exit by Palo Verde HS, a magnet school in Tucson. The Titans were the No. 8 seed, but were undefeated in league play and sporting a 14-4-1 season record. So, not a shabby team. But also not the defending champs.
But the Lady Saints didn’t leave without a struggle, as the game turned extremely physical. Both teams were given red cards, one to PV’s Jasmine Stokes and the other to Notre Dame’s Taylor Reisdorf, both at different times in the second half.
It was Stokes who scored the lone Palo Verde goal in the 1-0 victory before her exit with a lot of game left to play.
The Notre Dame loss has to be considered one of the real surprises of the playoffs as the Lady Saints returned nine players from last year’s state championship team and were expected to be in good shape to repeat.
In 5A-I, the No. 7 Mountain Pointe HS boys’ team put away No. 10 Desert Vista, 2-1. The close score wasn’t surprising, since these teams had met twice already this season and each victory was squeezed out.
But the drama was intense.
This was the third time in three games that it came down to a shoot-out. Every game has ended that way – but it was Desert Vista that won the first two. But not this time.
This time the Mountain Pointe players made sure the win would be theirs. They made all five penalty kicks in the 5-4 shootout, with conversions by Ryan Leach , Shawn Groves, Lucas Martinez, Ricardo Ardon, and Brandon Hansen.
Palo Verde earned the right to take on No. 1 Mingus HS, who beat Cholla HS, 2-1, in the opening round. They will play tonight at Red Mountain Park. Mountain Pointe also works its way up the seed ladder, taking on No. 2 Hamilton tonight at Hamilton HS.