Camp Verde High School’s boys soccer team proved it could adjust and pull off a comeback when it won 4-3 in overtime at Phoenix Country Day School on Saturday, Oct. 14.
The Cowboys [10-1, 5-0] maintained their unblemished record in Central Region play behind a second-half hat trick from senior striker Nathan Schultz and the overtime game-winner from senior midfielder Brandon Cruz.
“If we could play the whole game the way we played the second half then I think we’d be the best team in the state,” Cowboys head coach David Miller said. “We probably haven’t played our best game yet, but that was our best half. The boys were focused, the defense was determined and we played our game.”
Camp Verde had to work for the win. The Eagles [7-2-1, 3-2] took a 2-0 lead to start things off.
At halftime, the Cowboys switched its formation from a 4-4-2 to a 5-4-1, placing Schultz at the top as a lone striker. He played sweeper during the first half.
They switched their style of play, opting to chip balls over the Phoenix Country Day defense up to Schultz.
Cruz nabbed the game-winner on a deflection that sent the Eagles’ goalkeeper the wrong direction.
For Camp Verde to be able to switch its tactics and pull off a comeback so late in the season was a big positive as it heads towards the state tournament.
Being able to make those adjustments is a must for Miller’s players.
“If you’re playing on the field you need to be multitalented, you need to be able to play up and back, and outside and in. And so then if we change our approach for a particular game, as a player for Camp Verde, you need to be able to slide into that role and contribute,” Miller said.
Before that, however, they had to travel to Ash Fork High School’s smaller field on Monday, Oct. 16. Results were unavailable at press time.
Rounding out the regular season will be the long-awaited matchup with defending state champion Chino Valley High School. The Cowboys host the Cougars at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, on senior day and, potentially, with the region title up for grabs. The group of seniors has never beaten Chino Valley, and the team has lost 2-1 twice this year.
“It’s huge. The defending state champion on our field for senior night. I don’t know if you can get much more going on,” Miller said.
The Cowboys would sit back and defend, then try to spring out on the counter attack in order to score.
Two of the Eagles’ goals came on defensive breakdowns, the first on the outside and the second on a failed clearance in the middle.
Their middle goal came on a rare play. Camp Verde senior goalkeeper Preston Maynard handled the ball after one of his defenders passed it to him with their foot.
As a result an indirect free kick was given inside of the penalty box, and the Eagles converted the close-range chance.
The Cowboys survived another overtime game, this time at Ash Fork/Seligman High School on Monday, Oct. 16. They won 4-3 in overtime, but were down 3-2 in the first of two 10-minute overtime periods.
Cruz scored to tie the game at three before freshman forward Luis Venegas scored with two seconds left to secure the Central Region win.
With that victory, the region title will certainly come down to the senior night game against Chino Valley on Thursday, Oct. 19. Chino Valley will have its senior day against Grand Canyon High School, and barring a surprise upset, will enter that final game in Camp Verde also undefeated at 5-0.
Note: This story was updated on Tuesday, Oct. 17, with information from the Cowboys' win against Ash Fork/Seligman.
Central Region Standings
|Phoenix Country Day||3-2||7-2-1|
|Rancho Solano Prep||1-3||3-7|