Will 2014 be another year like 2011, when Tucson Catalina Foothills swept the boys and girls soccer championships?
The No. 1-seeded CF boys are going to try to hold up their end of the bargain in Division II.
Coach Julie Walters and her team will be aiming for their fourth crown since 2006.
The Falcons’ season appeared to be derailed almost before it began. They dropped their first three games, to Vail Cienega, Tucson Flowing Wells and Tucson before going on a 15-0-1 run (scoreless tie with Marana Mountain View).
Catalina Foothills opens the tournament at home on Feb. 4 against No. 16 Tempe McClintock. First-round winners advance to the quarterfinals on Feb. 8. Semifinals are Feb. 12 at Phoenix Paradise Valley, finals on Feb. 15 at Gilbert Campo Verde.
The Falcons’ top goal-scorers are Matthew Romangolo (12) and Rodrigo Cordiero (nine).
San Luis, from the Yuma area, comes in as the second seed. The Sidewinder s spent most of the season in the No. 4 spot, but climbed to No. 2 shortly before the pairings were announced on Jan. 31.
“I don’t know if it gave us an easier run, but looking at the schedule now, I’d rather have the two seed than the four,’’ Sidewinders coach Ian McDougall told the Yuma Daily Sun. “Looking ahead, not that you really have a luxury to do that, but if you’re going to play Catalina Foothills, you’re going to want to play them in the finals and not the semifinals, and to be honest, I think teams around the state might be looking at us the way they look at Catalina Foothills.’’
San Luis’ first-round opponent, No. 15 Flagstaff Coconino, has a big geographical challenge. The Panthers have a 5-to-6-hour drive each way. Jorge Espino and Bryce Block lead Coconino with six goals each.
No. 3 Phoenix Thunderbird has a new coach, Ivan Dizdal, and several new players, but achieved its high seeding through hard work and keeping the ball away from opponents. The Chiefs meet No. 14 Flowing Wells.
The Caballeros likely are much better than their seeding would indicate, having to face the tough teams in soccer-rich Tucson on a regular basis. Alejandro Gonzales is one of the state’s top scorers with 31 goals, while Guillermo Sainz and Carlos Tarazon with 11 goals apiece.
No. 4 Tucson has 20 wins and could have three more if not for scoreless ties against Cienega, Nogales and Tucson Rincon.
Nogales is fifth and will face No. 12 Glendale at Tucson High. Glendale Copper Canyon is No. 6.
Copper Canyon was No. 3 a year ago but fell to Glendale Apollo in the first round.
Coach Justin Bogus said that only has made his players hungrier this season. The Aztecs won their first nine games by way of shutouts. Their only losses were to Division I Phoenix Mountain Pointe and Avondale La Joya.
No. 11 Yuma Cibola serves as Copper Canyon’s opening opponent. Enrique Urenda has 12 goals for Cibola and Ernesto Avila has 10.
Tempe High’s Buffaloes weren’t sure if they would be able to qualify for the tournament after having to forfeit four games due to the use of an ineligible player. But they qualified with an explanation point at No. 7 with a win over Scottsdale Coronado, one of Division III’s top teams, earning valuable power points in the final week of the regular season. Tempe plays No. 10 Cave Creek Cactus Shadows in the first round at Chandler High.
Buckeye Verrado comes in at No. 8, facing No. 9 Yuma Kofa at Copper Canyon. Verrado, whose only loss was to Copper Canyon, has a pair of 21-goal scorers – freshman Alex Keavney and senior Jacob Neumann.
(Teams and fans can now download the state soccer tournament programs for free. Photos and rosters of each team and stories previewing each soccer state tournament will be in the programs. The programs will be available to view this week here: http://www.aia365.com/programs.)