It took one minute and 13 seconds for the 19-2 Canyon Del Oro boys’ soccer team to make its point.
In the 4A Sonoran regional championship on Thursday, senior midfielder Nick Marshall booted a line drive past Catalina Foothills goalkeeper Michael D’arrigo so quickly it took fans in the bleachers a minute to realize what had happened. After all, the last time the two teams met, the game was 0-0 until an overtime shootout gave CDO the win, 2-1.
Not this time.
“(The early goal) was obviously important,” said CDO coach and Nick’s older brother, Josh Marshall. “It just takes a huge wind out of their sails – it does damage.”
Nick Marshall, committed to play at UNLV next season, went on to score two more goals in the game, on assists from Caleb Christa and Donny Toia, giving the Dorados a 3-0 victory and cementing the #2 seed in the state tournament beginning Feb. 3, when CDO and Foothills matched up again.
The high seeding, and the fluid CDO attack on both offense and defense that won it, can be attributed to the players’ familiarity with each other, and with the game.
“Seven or eight of us have been playing together since we were little kids,” said Nick Marshall.
The continuity has brought the Dorados high expectations as the team heads into the tournament, hoping to avoid what Nick Marshall calls last season’s “disappointment” — not winning the state championship.
Marshall, who earlier this season broke CDO’s single-game scoring record with seven, has garnered most of the headlines this season, but according to their coach, the team’s strength is in its balance.
On offense, junior Donny Toia leads the division in assists and shots on goal per game, and ranks second in scoring to Marshall. Sophomore midfielder Ben Don ranks fourth in scoring.
Seniors Eric Edwards and Conner Muir and sophomore Kyle Cornell are all ranked in the division’s top five in assists, a testament to the Dorados’ unselfish style of play, and Cornell, Edwards and senior Mike Valacich rank in the top five in shots on goal.
On the defensive side, the senior goalkeeping duo of Wes Baker and Ryan Retz have held opponents to 12 total points in 21 games, ranking #1-#2 in saves per game.
The defense and offense will be tested in a first round rematch with Catalina Foothills.
The Lions finished at the top of the 2A Central division with a 13-4 record, earning a #7 seed, and will face #10 Scottsdale Christian in the first round of the state tournament beginning Feb. 6. Pusch Ridge has counted on the potent offensive combination of Matt Horrigan and Mitch Woody, outscoring opponents 76-23 overall. Goalkeeper Daniel Vavrusa has been adept at prevent opponents’ scoring opportunities, leading the Lions to six shutouts in the regular season.
The Mountain Lions have had an interesting year. Despite a losing record of 7-9-1, Mountain View will be playing in the first round of the state playoffs thanks to a 2-3 record in the 5A-II Southern, the only team to record a divisional win. The #15-seed Mountain Lions will take on 12-4 #2-seed San Luis High School on Feb. 3. Mountain View will count on leading scorers Nick Teppe, Nick Peap and Michael Psund to lead the charge on offense. On defense, goalkeeper Nate Prather, who saved nine in a December game against rival Marana, will looked to stifle the Sidewinders’ scoring opportunities.
A promising early 4-2-1 start for the Nighthawks into early December turned into a disappointing 2009 as Ironwood Ridge lost 12 straight to finish the season, ending with a 4-14-1 record. Despite the difficult finish, the offensive attack of Nigel Hesse, Garrett Reidhead and Ben Ambrosio was effective at times, and goalkeeper Carson Koia was able to keep the young Nighthawks close.
The 2009 season was tough for Marana High School. The Tigers went 2-10-1 this season, at one point going for more than a month without scoring a goal. Bright spots showed through, however, in the form of goal-scoring by Nick Parker and Spencer Lalusa and in the passing game of Ivan Marquez.