There were plenty of story lines coming out of the opening round of the Division I boys’ soccer state tournament. But one game overshadowed all the rest, as 16th-seeded Desert Vista High School pulled off a huge surprise upset of No. 1 Brophy Prep in an overtime thriller.
The big story could easily have been the fact that Corona del Sol High School knocked off the defending state champion, Chandler High – and did it in resounding fashion. Junior Ryan Flood started the scoring for the Aztecs with a goal in the 35th minute, and sophomore Bryan Oliveras added another before halftime. And that seemed to take the wind out of Chandler’s sails as the Wolves went on to post a 4-1 victory.
This win didn’t really carry the credentials of a true upset. Chandler’s championship roster was depleted by graduation and this year’s squad entered the playoffs as an 11th seed.
But No. 12 Tolleson High‘s 1-0 victory over No. 5 Mesa High definitely fits that category. Graduation had also drained Mesa’s pool of talent – the Jackrabbits returned just three starters from last season – but nonetheless they were able to re-build a strong defense and groom a trio of new goal tenders this season that contributed five shutouts and helped the Jackrabbits compile a 11-4-1 record in the regular season.
Mesa was able to get its share of shots on goal, particularly in the second half, but just couldn’t get them into the net. Tolleson (10-6-2) had just three opportunities in the second half, but made good on one of those when Moises Palacio drilled a shot through from 20 yards out in the 54th minute.
The mother of all upsets in the first round went to Desert Vista, which hung with top-seeded Brophy throughout regulation, which ended 1-1, and then won the match on penalty kicks for the 4-2 victory.
A No. 16 over No. 1 upset is rare, and there was little to indicate Desert Vista would be able to rise to the occasion. The Thunder had lost two of their final regular-season games and were not even a .500 team (7-8-2) coming into the state tourney.
Perhaps that worked in their favor. Brophy may have been looking past this early game.
Brophy finished the regular season 12-5-3 and had beaten all but one of the power-ranked teams they played. The only exception was a tie with Liberty High in the final game on the schedule.
And, as their contest with Desert Vista opened, the Broncos looked like the Thunder would be just another stop along the way to playing in the state finals for the fourth time in the last six years. Brophy out-shot DV in the first half, 11-3, but solid keeper work by senior goalie Carson Leisy kept the Broncos out of the net; Leisy finished the game with 10 saves.
Brophy did finally score before halftime when sophomore striker Carter Clemmensen gave the Broncos a 1-0 lead. The Thunder responded in the second half on a goal by senior Kunal Thakkar, and Leisy managed to hold the fort through the remainder of regulation.
DV was unable to get a single shot on goal in the overtime period, while Brophy got seven chances to close out a win. But it was ultimately decided on penalty kicks and the Thunder found net on four of their attempts.
The win moves Desert Vista into tomorrow’s second-round game with No. 8 Campo Verde, while Corona del Sol takes on No. 3 Hamilton High, and Tolleson will play No. 4 Gilbert High.