Once the Arizona Soccer Showcase finishes pool play it is always a struggle and battle to reach the finals.
Some of the pool play competition can be mismatches, but once it is down to the final few teams in each division the action heats up.
Until this year.
There was nothing remotely warm about Wednesday’s quarterfinal and semifinals at Reach 11 where snow on the mountain ranges could be seen.
“It was brutal,” Desert Vista coach Marvin Hypolite said.
It made Thursday’s championship wins even more rewarding after showing some resiliency the day before by winning the battle mentally just as much physically.
Highland girls beat Desert Vista 1-0 for the Black Division title; Red Mountain girls cruised to a 4-1 win over Northwest Christian for the Maroon title; Hamilton boys took the Black Division with a 3-2 win over Copper Canyon and Notre Dame boys knocked off Ironwood Ridge for the Maroon championship.
Hamilton was down early against Copper Canyon, but Kalvin Parr, who has 16 goals on the season, scored the equalizer before the Huskies finished it off late against Copper Canyon.
“We usually have the Diablo tournament early to tinker and figure some things out,” Husky coach Nick Markette of the defunct tourney. “So we came in with only a few matches. We were working on certain aspects of our game early (in the Arizona Showcase) but once we reached the final few days we played our starters.
“I told Kalvin he was kind of invisible in the first half and he came out pushed us to the win.”
The Desert Vista-Highland matchup was the second match between the top programs since Dec. 15 as the Thunder scored to second half goals to best the Hawks 2-1.
Highland (9-1-3) against grabbed a first half lead on Ashylnn Lovell’s goal with about five minutes left in the first half on an over the top pass that was enough to beat the Thunder’s Alexa Ryder.
“It was a bit of a fluky goal on a ball over the top to beat the keeper,” Hawks coach Andy Barber said. “It’s tough for (Desert Vista) I know because being the defending team they are going to question whether or not we were ahead, but it is what it is.”
What it was for the Thunder (6-1-1) was only the second goal Desert Vista has allowed all season, with other also coming against Highland, but this team the Thunder couldn’t answer in the second half as the offense got impatient on the few opportunities that came their way.
“You have some games where it rolls like that,” Thunder coach Marvin Hypolite said. “We had chances but we didn’t come through in the final third of the field.”
Red Mountain (5-4-1) didn’t have that problem against Northwest Christian or many teams in the Maroon bracket, which is made up mostly of smaller division teams.
“We wanted to be in the other division, but that’s where we were placed, probably based on the season we had last year,” said second-year coach Vincent Gallegos, who signaled out Aubree Incardone, Brittany Hertneky and Julianne Dominguez. “We did what we were supposed to do and beat the team in front of us. We did a lot of good things and were able to work in a lot of players, but when are starters were in there we played very good.”