Hamilton High School didn’t waste any time yesterday letting the No. 3 boys’ soccer team in the country know they weren’t intimidated by Brophy Prep’s gaudy stats.
The Huskies marched into Brophy’s spiffy new sports complex in central Phoenix and punched the Broncos right in the nose. It took Hamilton just six minutes to draw first blood and hold on to that 1-0 lead well into the second half.
Undefeated Brophy, sitting at No. 3 in the ESPN/Rise national rankings, managed to recover with a couple of goals of its own to pull out the 2-1 win and hand the Huskies their first loss of the season.
It was a much-anticipated battle of nationally-ranked teams, with Hamilton ranked No. 14 by ESPN/Rise, and drew a crowd that filled the Brophy bleachers to capacity. The game also drew a local TV station and various other media to watch the encounter between the state’s top two 5A-I teams.
The opening goal off a header by Hamilton’s Michael Markette was only the third scored against the Broncos by an Arizona team all season. Brophy (18-0-1) had a little more trouble in California, where they played in a tournament over the holidays, and had to come from behind more than once before winning the event.
But here in Arizona, they continue to rule the roost.
It took them 11 minutes into the second half against Hamilton before a shot by Kevin Grigsby found its way into the net after bouncing off the top crossbar.
A short time later, Sean Ayers used some nifty footwork to get within 15 yards of the goal and then netted the tie-breaker, and eventual game-winner for the Broncos, thus adding a 20th goal this year to his resume.
This was the first loss of the season for Hamilton (14-1-3), but the Huskies may get another chance at the Broncos since both teams have to be heavily favored to make their way through the state tournament and eventually match-up.
That might even be in the championship game, as Brophy will likely be playing to win another title trophy. The 2008 squad was the last to bring home the hardware.
But there are other good soccer teams out there this year that may have other ideas, and have undoubtedly put a target on Brophy’s back.
One of those would now be Hamilton.