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Injuries, Crusaders stand between Shamrocks and state title match
The Shamrocks made it to the semifinals of the state tournament by putting a hurting on Florence and Fountain Hills.
It seems only fitting that injuries may be the only thing standing between Yuma Catholic and a possible berth in the 1A/2A/3A state title match.
Forward Ali Quintana and goalkeeper Mary Allt were sidelined from the Shamrocks' practices early in the week and are questionable heading into today's semifinal matchup against Phoenix-Northwest Christian at Paradise Valley High School in Phoenix. Allt had soreness in her shoulder following the game against Fountain Hills and Quintana was still nursing a sore foot, which sidelined her in the tournament's opening round matchup against Florence.
Missing either player would be a setback for Yuma Catholic's matchup against Northwest Christian. In the two prior meetings against the Crusaders (11-6 overall, 5-4 1A/2A/3A West) the Shamrocks were shut out by a combined 5-0 margin. No other squad shut out Yuma Catholic (14-5 overall, 4-4 1A/2A/3A West) on two separate occasions this season.
"Goals are going to be hard to come by against Northwest Christian, they're a very good team," Yuma Catholic coach Jesus Quintana said. "They've got good speed, they're pretty solid. We cannot overlook any part of our game."
In their previous matches the Shamrocks only mustered seven total shots against the Crusaders during the two-game series. Two of those came off the currently-injured foot of Ali Quintana.
Though Jesus hasn't been shy about wanting his daughter to be on the field today, he said that she'll only play if it benefits the team. That means not letting Ali playing injured.
Jesus said that the number of years he's spent on the field with his daughter has helped him separate the role of parent and coach.
"I expect her to work hard like the other kids. But being the dad, it hurts me that she's hurt," Jesus Quintana said. "That part is hard to deal with. As a coach I want her to be in there because she is such an experienced player."
In her junior season, Ali Quintana has led the Shamrocks in scoring with 16 goals and nine assists this season. But after hurting her foot in the regular season, she has had her name kept off the scoresheet for the past four games.
Ali said that no match was more difficult to be sidelined for than the quarterfinals contest against Fountain Hills. After playing early minutes to test out her foot, Jesus Quintana pulled his daughter after he realized she hadn't fully recovered.
"You want to play so bad. I knew I could do it," Ali Quintana said. "I knew what needed to be done. Getting out there, you feel like you're making a contribution for the team, I didn't want to not be in the game."
After taking time to rest she said she hoped to be ready for today's game, but Jesus Quintana emphasized that she would be a game-time decision.
The Yuma Catholic coach seemed more optimistic about Allt's status and said she was sitting out as a precaution.
"She's had some really solid games. The game against Fountain Hills she made some truly tremendous saves," Jesus Quintana said. "She's working really hard, she's not afraid to get on the ground"
Allt said she expected to be able to play in today's game, crediting the six-day layoff between the quarterfinals and semifinals with aiding her recovery and helping her team remained focused.
"It's given us time to rest and to let us come down from the hype of winning," Allt said. "We can think about what we need to do and learn what we need to learn"
The Shamrocks will take the field against the Crusaders at 1 p.m. at Phoenix-Paradise Valley. If the Shamrocks win, they will face the winner of the match between Goodyear-Estrella Foothills and Sedona-Red Rock in the state title match. That match would be played Saturday on the same field at Noon.