Print Mingus soccer teams challenge history
Written by George Werner   
Friday, 14 February 2014 10:43

Arizona’s Division III soccer programs are beginning to understand that if they want a state championship, they will have to go over the mountain that is Mingus Union High School.

Senior Haylie Backus, No. 3, celebrates her first-half goal for Mingus Union High School against Walden Grove High School of Sahuarita. Also celebrating the only goal in a 1-0 state quarterfinal win Saturday, Feb. 8, over the Red Wolves are sophomores Kassidy Kitchen, No. 5, Martina Bueno, No. 10, and Brenna McCallum, No. 15, who embraces senior Emily Nelson.

On Saturday, Feb. 8, senior Haley Backus’ game-winning first-half goal over Walden Grove High School kept the fifth-seeded girls title dreams going into the state semifinals, while the No. 6-seeded
boys traveled to higher seed Yuma Catho-lic High School and took the Shamrocks to the wire before falling 2-1 after the Marauders’ first-ever state playoff victory.

“We’ve always had good teams,” head girls soccer coach Thomas “Buddy” Rhodes said. “But when you get into the state playoffs, you never know.”

Backus’ goal came off the rebound of a quick free kick from sophomore Brennna McCallum midway through the first half that Red Wolves sophomore goalkeeper Jaylene Lopez could not handle.

After losing last year’s state title game to Campo Verde High School in Gilbert, the Marauders have a dual shot at redemption: Beat the team they lost to in their next game — a 2-0 loss to No. 1 seed Fountain Hills High School in their season opener Dec. 2 — then get the title back, their second in five seasons, over either Yuma Catholic High School or Seton Catholic Preparatory Academy on Friday, Feb. 14, at Campo Verde High School.

“You’d prefer not to get the No. 1 team until the championship, but you’ve got to go through them sometime,” Rhodes said. “They are very good: Quick with talented players. [It] should be a great game.”

For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Feb. 12, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.