Prep soccer tourneys bring out the best in the best

It’s early December and the high school soccer tournaments are breaking out all over as the season swings into high gear.

For some teams, particularly those with state-title aspirations, these tourneys provide an opportunity to test their mettle against quality teams.  The Diablos Soccer Classic in Tempe is one of those events.

The Desert Vista High School boys’ team took on last year’s Division I champion, Hamilton High, in the tournament’s championship game – and beat the Huskies, 1-0.

And the Desert Vista girls‘ squad got the same opp0ortunity on their side of the tournament, scoring a 2-1 upset win over the Division I defending state champion, Highland High, which is a favorite again this season to win a second straight title.

The girls rolled through the event undefeated and unscored-upon until Highland’s Jaden DeGracie used her patented flip throw-in to toss the ball 35 yards into the goal box, where it bounced off goal kkeeper Alexa Ryder‘s hands and into the net in the 53rd minute.

But a Rachel Ressler goal in the first half to give the Thunder a 1-0 lead, and Kelly Watson‘s score in the 63rd minute, was enough to give Desert Vista its second straight Diablos title.

On the boys’ side, a goal by Josh Greene midway through the first half was enough to get Desert Vista past Hamilton and prevent the Huskies from defending their tournament title.  Greene converted a corner kick from Tate Schmidt into the winning goal.

The Hamilton boys, who were undefeated coming into the tournament behind an offense that was scoring three goals a game, dropped to 6-1 and the Thunder move up to 7-1.

The Desert Vista girls’ team continues to be a burr under the saddle of the Highland Hawks; it was the only school to beat Highland last year.

Over in Scottsdale…the Firebirds of Chaparral High School won a thriller in the Gold bracket championship game of the Horizon Tournament of Champions in a come-from-behind 4-3 victory that was decided on penalty kicks in overtime.

Catalina Foothills High School held a 2-1 lead at halftime, but goals by Allison Jordan and Ali Kallner put Chaparral in the lead at the 57th minute mark.  Aleah Strength tied it up for Catalina in the 75th minute to send it into overtime.

A staunch defensive effort by Chaparral goal keeper, Rachel Johnson, kept Catalina out of the net on three of their four shots.  And the Firebirds found the goal with three of their shots, the last one delivered by senior Katie Clemmons to seal the win and the tournament title.

The Firebirds moved to 7-1 on the season and should definitely be in contention when state tournament time rolls around.

A penalty kick also decided the championship game in the Silver bracket, where Arcadia High School beat the tourney’s host, Horizon High, thanks to a winning penalty kick by Kate Staudenmaier and key saves by goalie Abby Schneider in the overtime.

Sydnee Weber provided a 1-0 lead for Horizon on a shot into the upper left corner of the net in the 18th minute, while Arcadia answered in the 54th minute when Megan Hawkins booted one over the Horizon keeper, Delaney Strizich, and into the net for the tie to force overtime.

And in Phoenix…the Pinnacle High School boys’ team remained undefeated (7-0) after beating Washington High, 4-1, to win the Moon Valley Tournament.

Mason Robertson scored two goals for the Pioneers to lead the way to the win – both in the second half, and both less than 30 seconds apart.  The University of Washington-commit also led the way to the title game by scoring a pair of goals in the semi-final win over North High.

Washington, too, entered the tournament undefeated but left 6-1.