The boys from Phoenix Desert Vista won the battle of soccer survival on Tuesday night (Feb. 4), defeating Tolleson 2-1 on penalty kicks (5-4) in the first game of a Division I state-tournament double-header at Phoenix Alhambra.
Ninth-seeded Desert Vista (12-8-1) moves on to Saturday’s (Feb. 8) 2 p.m. quarterfinal at top-seeded Chandler Hamilton, which easily defeated No. 16 Mesa 7-1. Hamilton defeated Desert Vista 2-0 in the Tempe Diablos tournament early in the season.
Shortly after Tolleson (17-5-1) failed to take the lead when its final penalty kick hit the right goal post and bounced away, Desert Vista came through when sophomore Duncan Ugland booted home the game-winner. The Thunder bench erupted and the players swarmed the field.
Desert Vista coach Mike Rabasca wasn’t exactly enamored with the officiating. He lost one player on an elbow to the head and a second player was red-carded, forcing the Thunder to play one man down for most of the second half.
“It was a close game. We won and will choose to walk away,’’ he said when asked about the calls.
“The game was between two evenly matched (seeded) teams. It’s too bad it has to go to penalty kicks.’’
The red card forced Desert Vista to alter its game plan “quite a bit, but we ended up being more effective because of it,’’ Rabasca said.
Senior Tim O’Brien had a strong effort in goal for Desert Vista. Rabasca called him the best at his position among the big schools.
Both teams had their chances but could not connect in a scoreless first half.
The Desert Vista red card came with 21:40 left in the second half, and about two minutes later, the Thunder took a 1-0 lead when Nicholas Mangialardi headed the ball in off a corner kick.
Tolleson got the equalizer with 13:23 left when senior captain Alexis De La Rosa headed the ball in off a long throw-in.
Tolleson nearly scored the go-ahead goal with about a minute and a half left, but the ball hit the crossbar. The Wolverines continued to apply the pressure in the game’s late stages.
Desert Vista began to control the ball through much of the overtime.
There was no scoring, setting up the penalty kicks.