‘Cinderella’ teams still alive in boys’ state soccer playoffs

The success of some of the lower-seeded teams is providing some added interest to the high school state semi-final games on Thursday.

The four games in Division I and Division II include a No. 8 seed, a No. 10 seed – and even a No. 14 seed.  And they all reached the semis by beating top-four seeds.

In Division I play, No. 10 San Luis High School surprised No. 2 Corona del Sol in Saturday’s quarterfinals by blanking the Aztecs, 2-0, and No. 5 Tolleson Union High School ran away from No. 4 Carl Hayden High, 3-0.

In Division II, No. 5  Queen Creek High School posted a huge upset of No. 1-seeded South Mountain High and No. 14 Apollo High School stunned No. 3 Copper Canyon High School in the opening round.

In fact, Brophy Prep in Division I is the only No. 1 see still alive.  The Broncos passed their toughest test Saturday when they took on the defending state champion, Hamilton High School, in the quarterfinals – but won by a surprising three-goal margin.

The Broncos, playing on their home field in central Phoenix, spread the scoring around as four different players connected with the net.  Riggs Lennon and Oliver Shanks put up the first two goals in the first half, while Colin Zaccagnio and Alex Broglia added two more in the second half to wrap up the 4-1 victory and move on to face No. Tolleson in a semi-final game in which Brophy will be heavily favored.

This will be the first time in three years the Bronocs and Huskies haven’t met in the state finals.  Brophy beat Hamilton in 2011 for the crown and the roles were reversed last year when the Huskies took home the hardware.

In the bottom half of the Division I bracket, San Luis will try to continue its ‘Cinderella’ run through the tournament when it takes on No. 3 Desert Vista High School, which hasn’t been scored upon yet in the playoffs.  The Thunder beat No. 14 Rincon High in the opening round, 3-0, and then made surprisingly short work of No. 6 Gilbert High, which has been an annual play-off team for the past decade and did not lose a power-rankings game in the regular season this year.

A direct kick by Tate Schmidt opened the Desert Vista scoring as the Thunder took the lead just six minutes into the game, then followed up with a pair of goals from Nicholas Mangialardi – which gives the junior five total playoff goals – for the 3-0 victory.

Division II also has a legitimate Cinderella in Apollo High, as the No. 14 Hawks take on No. 2 Greenway High.  But Greenway has struggled defensively in the first two games, putting plenty of offense on the field but letting its opponents score eight points over the two games.  The Demons beat No. 15 Tempe High School in the opening round, 5-4, and got past No. 7 Thunderbird High by a similar score in the quarterfinals.

There may be a good chance here for an upset of Greenway, which would put Apollo into the finals against the winner of the Queen Creek vs. Salpointe Catholic semi-final game.

Salpointe, the Tucson soccer power, is ranked No. 4 and has been dominant throughout, beating No. 13 Mohave High School, 6-1, and No. 5 Verrado High, 6-0.

And Queen Creek is seeded eighth, but probably should have been seeded higher.  After winning the opener against No. 9 Cactus Shadows High School, 5-4, the Bulldogs shocked the No. 1 seed South Mountain High, 5-1.

Queen Creek took the top seed out of the game early, raining down with three goals in the first few minutes of the game and built up a 4-1 lead before the half ended.

The Bulldogs got goals from Ryan Kattcamp, Mason Krause, Jacob Dominguez, and John Pairier in the first half, and Dominguez netted his second of the game late in the second half.

Division I teams will play Thursday’s evening games at Campo Verde High School in Gilbert, while Division II is scheduled at Paradise Valley High School.