Overtime thrills…two first-ever soccer state champions

After the dust settled from the weekend’s state high school championship soccer matches, the city of Tucson came away with solid possession of  Division II.

And a single school in the Phoenix Valley very nearly wrapped up all of Division I.

The Salpointe Catholic boys’ team survived a very physical encounter with Scottsdale’s Notre Dame Prep to post a 3-0 win for the Division II crown, the school’s first in eight years.  And on the girls’ side, Catalina Foothills High School just kept on doing what it does so well, winning a third consecutive state title with a 2-0 victory over Cactus Shadows High School from Cave Creek.

A post-season participant on a regular basis, this time it looked like the Salpointe boys were going to have to wait another year when Christian Garcia, the team’s captain and one of the top scorers, went down with an ankle injury midway through the first half.

Before he left the game, Garcia got the scoring started with the first goal and then Emilio Villatoro and Luis Castro added the other two for the win in an emotion-filled game that saw two red cards being thrown, both penalizing Notre Dame.

For the Catalina Foothills girls, this year’s championship match was just business as usual since they’ve pocketed six titles in the past eight years, and this one was no different – despite the fact that Cactus Shadows had come into the game as the top-seeded team in the playoffs.

The Falcons picked up the pace after an uneventful first half, and Emily Green‘s big foot found the net for the first goal just a couple of minutes into the second half.  Jenna Glad followed up with the insurance score with a header off a throw-in.

In Division I, Chandler’s Hamilton High School came within a penalty kick of sweeping both the boys and girls state titles.

The boys pulled it off, beating the team they couldn’t get past last year for a 2-1 victory and their first-ever state championship.  Hamilton lost to Brophy Prep in last season’s championship match when the schools played in the old 5A-I division.  The Hamilton girls weren’t as fortunate, losing to Highland High from neighboring Gilbert, 4-2.

But both drama-filled games were well worth the price of admission.

To begin, it was the first state title in soccer for both winners.  The boys have been to the championship game several times, coming up short each time, but Saturday’s title match was the first time the girls’ program had advanced that far.

And the No. 3-seeded girls’ team was faced with the challenge of beating the defending state champion – which was also the top-seeded team.

Secondly, both games went to overtime.  Jordan Fletcher secured the win for the boys with a tie-breaking goal late in the second overtime, while the girls’ game went to four overtimes before being decided on penalty kicks almost two hours after it had begun.

The Hawks put four straight shots into the net and goalkeeper Ashley March made a couple of nail-biting saves to secure the biggest win in the history of the program.