Desert Vista High is fast becoming Brophy Prep‘s worst nightmare. At least when it comes to boys’ soccer.
The Thunder eliminated Brophy in the first round of the state playoffs two years ago and this year they pulled off a huge upset of the Broncos in Saturday’s 6A title game at Campo Verde High School in Gilbert, stunning the heavily-favored Catholic school in central Phoenix with a 3-0 shut-out.
And this is the same Desert Vista team that had already lost twice to Brophy, 1-0 and 5-2, in December. Despite the fact that Desert Vista was the No. 2 seed in the state tourney, the Thunder were up against a top seed that had returned 17 players and 14 seniors from a team that advanced to last year’s semifinal.
This Brophy team had won 21 games and was undefeated coming into the playoffs, shutting out 11 opponents and piling up 78 goals over 23 games.
To add to the intimidation factor, the Broncos were ranked No. 1 in the nation (USA Today) coming into the title game. That made this loss especially devastating, not just because it cost the Broncos the mythical national championship, but because most of the seniors on the squad have been chasing a state title through the playoffs since they were freshmen, without being able to bring home the gold ball.
For one half of that title game, Desert Vista (19-4-2) had to be happy it was just hanging with Brophy, going into halftime locked in a 0-0 tie. But the Thunder suddenly found the key to making their third encounter with the Broncos the proverbial charm. They scored three times in the second half to roll to the 6A title.
Desert Vista was under the direction of a first-year head coach in Trent Elliott, but perhaps it still shouldn’t be too big a surprise since the Thunder came into the state tournament with a full head of steam after winning nine straight games, dating back to early January. Through the first three playoff games, they outscored their opponents 12-5, including a big win over No.3-seeded and undefeated Chandler High in the semifinals.
A heavy dose of credit has to go to the Desert Vista defense, which held the Broncos scoreless, only the second time all season that has happened. The only other time Brophy was blanked came against a Texas team in the first week in January. That game ended in a 0-0 tie.
Like Brophy, the Thunder roster was loaded with senior leadership – 14 seniors in all – and it was one of those seniors who got to put the finishing touch on the final game of his prep career. Forward Max Wennes found the net with an unassisted goal in the final minutes of the game to wrap up the Phoenix school’s first state title since 2006.
But it was a couple of juniors that started the scoring and built a formidable 2-0 lead. Jayden Bourg got the scoring started with a header with 28 minutes still to play in the second half, and Parker Lischwe added the insurance goal four minutes later.
This could be the swan song for both schools, who played for the 2013 state title that Brophy won. Next season, the re-loading begins since both teams will be losing a boatload of senior leadership, with Brophy going after its sixth state title and Desert Vista on a new quest to add a fifth.
But right now, it’s Desert Vista that owns the hardware. And Brophy that has to deal with the nightmares.