As the Arizona state high school soccer tournament for boys begins to unfold, the top two big-school divisions are offering the most interesting activity in the early rounds.
A big upset victory in the opening round that took an overtime period to accomplish provided the most excitement in 6A play, while another upset in 5A made it possible for a re-match in the next round between the two teams that played for last year’s title.
North Canyon High School, the No. 14 seed, had to eliminate No. 3 Paradise Valley High to escape the first round and move on to a match-up with Campo Verde High, the same team they had to defeat last year to win the 2017 state championship. Not an easy task since PV came into the state tourney with a ton of momentum after winning 10 of the last 11 games on the regular-season schedule.
And North Canyon didn’t just squeeze out the win, the Rattlers blanked the Trojans, 3-0.
No. 6 Campo Verde took out No. 11 Liberty High School in Wednesday’s first round, shutting out the Lions, 1-0, to earn the right to match up with North Canyon (9-7-1) in tomorrow’s quarterfinals. Campo has 16 wins under its belt and has suffered just one loss, a double-overtime loss to Queen Creek High School, since late December.
North Canyon’s key to beating the Coyotes will be to try to keep an explosive Campo offense in check. Led by senior forward Blaise Hale‘s 17 goals this season, the Coyotes average almost four goals a game with a team total of 78. By contrast, the Rattlers average just a shade under one goal per outing and have accumulated just 14 total goals this season. Their strength is in their defense.
But so far, you can’t beat the kind of excitement that Tempe’s Corona del Sol High School and Tucson’s Rincon/University High School provided in the 6A competition, a major upset that went into overtime before the underdog Corona pulled out the victory.
Rincon, with 13 wins and the No. 4 seed, scored early and appeared on its way to a quarterfinal appearance. No. 13 Corona (10-8-2) was down two goals within the first 10 minutes – one apiece by sophomore midfielder Jesse Gill and junior striker Abdullahi Mohamed – before the Aztecs began their climb back into the game.
Corona came back with a goal from Josh Allison in the 23rd minute, but almost waited too long to add the catch-up score. But a header by Mitchell Carpenter off a corner kick tied the game at 2-2 in the 79th minute and sent it into overtime.
It didn’t take Corona long to take the advantage. Juan Uribe provided the go-head, and ultimately winning, goal at the 83rd-minute mark and the Aztec defense held stiff for the rest of the period to give Corona the 3-2 victory.
Corona will get another chance to knock off a higher seed when it takes on No. 5 Pinnacle High in tomorrow’s quarterfinal game. Pinnacle (15-5-1) easily rolled over Trevor Browne High School in the opening round, blanking the Bruins, 5-0.