Hamilton falls just short of sweep at AZ Soccer Showcase


The Hamilton High girls’ soccer team was looking for some revenge against Desert Vista High School when the two teams met for the Black Division title of the Arizona Soccer Showcase.

The Thunder girls beat Hamilton in last year’s state finals when Isabel Deustch punched through the winning goal during the penalty-kick phase of the championship game, capping off a 22-win season.

But the planned revenge at the Showcase turned into just more frustration.  Desert Vista took a 2-0 lead in the first half of Friday’s title game and then held the Chandler Huskies off for a 2-1 victory to run its season record to 13-1.

The Huskies have a pair of ties on this season’s record, but the loss to Desert Vista is just the second in 14 games. Since the season began, Hamilton and Desert Vista have been projected to be the likely combatants in this season’s state championship game.

It was the senior tandem of Caroline Byrch and Jessica Hale that gave Desert Vista its two-goal lead in the first half of the Showcase title game, and the Thunder’s defense that stepped up in the second half to protect that lead, withstanding a barrage of shots on goal to limit the Huskies to a single goal.

Brianna “Sammy” Atterbury notched the Huskies’ lone goal, giving her five on the season.  The junior is tied with Bryce Minniefield for team goals, right behind Hailey Collier, who has six.  The fact that all three will return next year is good news for Hamilton fans; Minniefield is also a junior, while Collier is a sophomore.

Hamilton gets another chance to avenge the last two losses to the Thunder when the Huskies travel to Phoenix for a road game tonight on Desert Vista’s home field.

Had the girls’ team pulled off the win, it would have meant a sweep for Hamilton, which hosts the Showcase at the Reach 11 Sport Complex in north Phoenix.  That site is large enough to accommodate the 64 teams that participated in the two divisions for boys and girls.

The Hamilton boys have been hard to beat in the annual four-day event.  Their Black Division title win this year over Tempe’s Corona del Sol High School was their third in a row.

But it didn’t come easy this time.  The two teams played to a 2-2 tie that was eventually won by Hamilton on penalty kicks, 4-3.

The Huskies, which have last year’s azcentral sports’ Big Schools Boys Soccer Player of the Year Josh Drack back as a senior, have become a perennial soccer powerhouse.  Over the last 10 years, they have played in five state championship games.

The match-up between Hamilton and Corona was the most anticipated game of the Showcase.  Hamilton began the season as the No. 1 team in the Super 10 rankings that include all conferences, and the Aztecs were No. 3.

Corona is coming off a 15-win season last year and has won nine out of 10 so far this season, including a season-opener 3-1 win against Hamilton that set the stage for this year’s drive to a state title.  The Aztecs further confirmed their role as a state title contender in their last game, a 1-0 win over Brophy Prep – the team that was ranked just above them at season’s start, No. 2 in the Super 10 rankings.

The Hamilton girls travel to Desert Vista for tonight’s game, the Huskies’ boys’ team will be hosting the Thunder.