Overtime thrills highlight the start of state soccer playoffs

The annual 12-day trek through the playoffs to a state high school soccer title began yesterday as the first-round competition on the girls’ side began, separating the contenders from the pretenders.

But, of the 16 games played in the top two divisions, there weren’t many that really shook the ground.

All the top seeds in Division I have moved on to the quarterfinals on Saturday, and only two real blow-out wins were recorded when No. 6-seed Boulder Creek High School walked over No. 11 Willow Canyon High School, 7-0, and No. 2 Desert Vista High School blanked No. 15 Westview High, 5-0.

Division II play also had its share of lopsided wins, but there were a couple of games that were definitely worth the price of admission  – and fans could have caught both since they were scheduled back-to-back on the same field.

In the 5 o’clock game at Apollo High School, No. 10 Notre Dame Prep took No. 7 Sunrise Mountain High School to overtime before pulling off a 4-1 win.

On paper, it appears to be an upset, with the lower-seed Saints knocking off the higher-seeded Mustangs.  But Notre Dame, the state champs in 2009 and runner-up in 2011, have the talent to go all the way this year and these two teams were pretty evenly matched.

That parity was obvious throughout regulation play, as senior Brylee Hawkins put up the game’s first goal for Sunrise Mountain – and her 24th of the season – with a header she played off a free kick.  In the second half, Notre Dame tied it up when senior forward Madison Reisdorf, the Saints’ scoring leader, was able to turn a rebound in front of the net into a goal.

For their effort, the Saints will be rewarded with a trip to the high country on Saturday to take on No. 2-seed Flagstaff High School, which is coming off a 10-0 romp over No. 15 Mohave High School.

Another Division II game provided still more overtime drama as No. 4 Apollo High School tried to escape an upset by No. 13 Sabino High.

This one, played at 7 pm at Apollo High, went through two overtime periods and eight rounds of penalty kicks before a freshman broke a 6-6 tie with a successful penalty kick that gave Apollo the 7-6 sudden-death win.  It was Olivia Tapia‘s first attempt at making a penalty kick in her young prep career – but couldn’t have come at a better time than when it was needed to advance in a state playoff game.

It was a day for freshmen to shine, since Tapia’s teammate, Danny Fonseca, scored the lone Apollo goal in the first half.  Kelsey Jenkins forced the game into overtime with a Sabino goal in the final 71 seconds of regulation.

Holding Fonseca to just one score was a significant accomplishment for the Apollo defense.  She has piled up 40 goals this season.

Apollo, which is being guided by first-year head coach Amanda Wright, will be back on its own field again Saturday when the Hawks host No. 5 Arcadia High School, which advanced after narrowly escaping an upset by No. 12 Marana High School in a 1-0 squeaker played at Xavier Prep.