Tempe Diablos tourney helps evaluate prep soccer teams

The Tempe Diablos soccer tournament is a great early-season gauge because it draws most of the top high school teams from around the state.  This year was no exception.

There were no dark-horse entries who were able to sneak up on the rest of the field.  Not in this tournament.

On the boys’ side, it was Hamilton High School that snatched the title for a second straight year in a 3-0 win over Gilbert High that was played at the Tempe Sports Complex.   Desert Vista High School topped the girls’ field, beating Corona del Sol High School, 3-1.

Hamilton, which finished the last two seasons as runner-up to the state champions in 5A-I and was ranked No. 2 in Division I in the pre-season, was considered one of the tourney’s favorites to win it all.  Gilbert was ranked No. 5.

The Huskies kept their undefeated record intact, moving up to 7-0, while Gilbert drops to 7-1.

Hamilton got some big help from its sophomore class, as goals by Tyler Patel and Connor Follett in the second half provided a cushion of victory after Danny Arrubla opened the scoring with a first-half goal off a penalty kick.

For Arrubla, Hamilton’s leading scorer, it was old hat.  The goal off the penalty kick was his 15th this season.  But Patel’s goal was his first as a varsity player.

The Desert Vista girls, who reached the 5A-I state semis last year and earned a No.5 pre-season ranking, ran their season record to 8-0 with this win.

They came into the Diablos Classic with a new coach at the helm and a squad that returned six starters.  Corona (3-2-2), which carries 22 players from last year’s roster, including nine starters, earned a No. 7 pre-season ranking.

Corona became the first team to score a goal on the Thunder this season by taking an early 1-0 lead  on a goal by Maddie Caldwell, the junior striker, in the 23rd minute of the first half.

But Desert Vista answered with two goals from junior midfielder, Kelly Watson, one of which immediately followed Caldwell’s score.  She added another in the first half on a penalty kick.

Jessica Johnson, the Thunder’s senior forward, capped the scoring with a goal midway through the second half.