The senior class of Mingus Union High School’s boys soccer team could not have ended its tenure at Bright Field on a higher note, winning 2-1 against school rival Flagstaff High School on Tuesday, Jan. 23.
Two goals in two minutes during the first half were good enough, as the Marauders [6-5-1, 4-2 Grand Canyon Region] were forced to defend for most of the second half.
“I’ve been doing this for five years now and I’ve never walked off the field and felt like Mingus didn’t give 100 percent, and we did it again tonight. Game after game we came out and played. We knew we were down personnel and we still just worked hard,” Marauders head coach Calvin Behlow said.
Entering the game at No. 26 in the Conference 4A rankings, it was also a must-win game to have a shot at qualifying for the state tournament. Ultimately, the team did not make it into the 4A play-in tournament.
During halftime eight seniors were honored on the field with their families: Ezekiel Behlow, Eric Samano, Kevin Ornelas, Cayden Ontiveros, Cristian Sandoval, Ivan Quidera, Issac Sanchez and manager Kylie Densmore.
“I think we all came in positive. I think we all thought deep down we were going to win, it was definitely a tough game though,” Samano said. “It was just crazy, I don’t know how else something like this would feel. It’s really great having a senior night, winning it, and for it being the possibility going to state, it’s incredible.”
Mingus got on the board in the 27th minute through junior forward Bradley Howard, taking a lifted pass from junior midfielder Jordan Finger and scoring past the outcoming goalkeeper. A minute later, Howard helped double the lead by forcing an own goal with a low cross.
“We moved Kevin [Ornelas] to one side, Bradley [Howard] to one side and told Bradley to just to take it until he gets stopped,” Calvin Behlow said. “And he got all the way down, and I always tell my guys, if you don’t have an angle, amazing things happen when everybody’s running to the goal, and that’s exactly what happened.”
The Marauders defended confidently to close out the half, but Flagstaff [6-4-2, 4-1-1] brought the pressure in the second when it moved another player forward.
Mingus junior goalkeeper Levi Kjerstad made a quality save in the 49th minute, poking wide a shot that was heading for the upper corner.
Flagstaff continued shooting. Mingus’ defending was frantic.
With under 10 minutes remaining, Kjerstad’s goal kick went straight to Flagstaff senior forward Ricardo Hernandez, who scored.
“I’m actually glad we gave up the goal for the simple fact that it changed the last seven minutes of the game, because we knew that anything could happen,” Calvin Behlow said. “.... We were starting to play not to lose rather than playing to win, and after they scored that goal we changed the tempo.”
Quote of the Game
“I couldn’t be happier for the kids because we could have given up six games ago or five games ago or seven games and we never did, we just kept playing,” Calvin Behlow said.