The Mingus Union High School girls soccer team set out to win a 4A-II conference state championship in 2009-2010 and did so, defeating rival Flagstaff High School in the title game, 1-0.
Nine months later, the Marauders are at it again for the 2010-2011 campaign, but will have to go without nine senior starters who graduated in May.
“I know we lost a lot of kids but we’ve got some solid players coming back and some new girls that came out. We’re still a good team and still the defending champs,” Mingus Head Coach Buddy Rhodes said.
In the last two seasons, the Marauders recorded an impressive 29-1 record, losing in the state championship match in 2009 in a shootout.
Last year, the Marauders finished the season a perfect 16-0 and claimed the state championship, capping it off with a thrilling 1-0 win over the Eagles.
Top returners this season for Mingus include seniors Kayla Dixon, Jesse Zaske and Courtney Hageman.
Hageman should find herself between the posts at the goalkeeper position when Mingus begins its schedule Tuesday, Nov. 30, against Independence High School.
“She’s been our backup the last few years because of Tessa Fanning being so outstanding, but now it’s her turn,” Rhodes said.
The Marauders have several returning juniors as well, which include Tory Braly, Mckenzie Mayberry, Anna Guerrero, Courtlin Sandoval and Ashley Roth.
Top newcomers for the Marauders include three seniors in Alan Backus, Amanda Randolph and Lashea Taylor along with sophomore standout Natalie Escamilla.
Escamilla was junior varsity most of her freshman year but got the thrill of her life when she scored with five minutes to go in the state championship match against Flagstaff in February, giving her team the title with a 1-0 win.
“We’ll be better than most people think. You don’t lose a senior class like we have without it hurting at least a little bit but the girls we have now are very good and we’ll be just fine,” Rhodes said.
As for the 2009-2010 title rematch, Flagstaff plays host to Mingus on Wednesday, Jan. 26. Chances are the two will be playing for the 4A-II Grand Canyon region title as well.