Sometimes one goal in the entire season can be more meaningful than others.
The latter of two second-half goals that lifted the Mingus Union High School boys soccer team to a 2-1 Grand Canyon Region win over visiting Prescott High School on Saturday, Jan. 13, could be the difference in going to the state playoffs or not.
The Marauders [4-4-1, 2-1 Grand Canyon] knew how important earning the victory was. They also know that their work is not over yet, likely needing to win their final three games to get into the top 24, which make the tournament.
“It’s one step closer. I think we’ve got to win out to get to the bracket. That’s the nature of the beast with the Grand Canyon [Region], we’ll probably send four teams, but you’ve got to be one of the top four,” Mingus head coach Calvin Behlow said. “I think right now four of them are sitting at the top, at least in the top 25, and so you’ve got to beat those teams. It’s one step, one game at a time, not to quote a great cliché, but we had to win this one.”
Mingus sophomore forward Eduardo Lazaro’s 30-yard laser was the difference maker. Lazaro picked the ball up toward the left of midfield, cut in toward the middle, sent the ball into the net, and was immediately surrounded by teammates.
Fourteen minutes earlier the Marauders, ranked No. 27 as of press time, tied the game through a penalty kick converted by junior midfielder Jovany Garcia. Lazaro earned the penalty after being brought down while receiving a pass after senior midfielder Kevin Ornelas’ driving run into the box.
Mingus junior goalkeeper Levi Kjerstad made a pair of key saves to preserve the lead. Both came on glancing headers at the near post from corner kicks. Prescott [4-4, 0-2] made it difficult during the final 10 minutes of play, but could not manage another goal.
The No. 26 Badgers got on the scoreboard in the opening stages of the first half. Mingus was playing with more intensity, but on Prescott’s first trip into its attacking half of the field, the Marauders defense did not close down quick enough on its midfielders. Badgers junior midfielder Fernando Rodriguez blasted a right-footed shot into the top corner from about 35 yards out.
“It was [being] out of position, it was jitters, I didn’t think it was going to go in. I didn’t anticipate the foot that he kicked it with, his right foot. He apparently had a strong right foot — I thought he was left-footed — I misinterpreted,” said Kjerstad, who has just a few games under his belt as a starter. “This game was probably the most important game that we needed.”
Note: Region standings were updated on Thursday, Jan 18, to include results from games after press time.
|Grand Canyon Region Standings|
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