Kofa girls, San Luis boys ready for state
Only 16 teams get the chance to make it to the state soccer playoffs in their respective divisions — and the San Luis boys team and Kofa girls team have made the cut.
The No. 11 Sidewinders will start their journey through the state tournament today when they face off against No. 6 Brophy at 5 p.m. at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale.
“I've been in this area long enough now that I've got a good understanding of Brophy,” San Luis coach Ian McDougall said. “For me it's not going to be a surprise. There's not really anything they can throw at us that I haven't seen.”
Kofa enters the playoffs in the No. 14 spot and will play at No. 3 Highland at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
“The majority of our girls in the offseason were playing for a traveling team,” Kofa coach Marisela Velasquez said. “So they've actually played a lot of the girls that we'll be playing against on the Highland team. So I'm hoping that will give them some confidence because they should be used to that level of play.
“I know they're nervous — we actually played Highland in the first round last year and lost on a penalty kick. At that time they were ranked No. 1 and we were ranked at 16. So we're hoping to give them another good game and come out on top this time.”
Velasquez said she is preparing her team for quick transitions, having her midfield and defense ready for an immediate counterattack that they haven't seen much of this year.
She is hoping that her net minder, Danielle Torres, and young midfielders are ready for Highland's offensive pressure.
“For Danielle Torres, I guess this is going to be the game that she's going to be tested more than any other game we've had this year,” Velasquez said. “She's come up with big saves for us against Cibola and San Luis. She's going to need to have a big game for us on Wednesday.
“Our young midfield — which is comprised of Abigail Rosales and Leticia Casillas — they've been big for us this year. They're going to have to continue doing that and really provide a presence to hold that middle so that we're not just playing defensively the whole game.”
With the boys team missing the playoffs for the first time in six seasons, the Kofa girls have received more attention this year, Velasquez said — and they are ready to live up to the hype.
“There's seem to be a bit more people who know about girls soccer this year and are talking about it. So they are very, very excited and I know they are going to represent the school to the best of their abilities. That's all we can ask of them.”
McDougall is confident that this team can make a good run through the playoffs, too — despite the mismatch in their competition.
“It's one of those game where I kind of think of it as a David vs. Goliath event. They are the elite private academy in Arizona. ... It's little old San Luis against the cream of the crop of Phoenix.”
Communication in this game is key for San Luis, McDougall said, and without it they won't win. The Sidewinders must also find a way to stop Brophy's Riggs Lennon — who also plays forward for the U.S. Under 17 National Team.
“If we can shut him down, we've got a good shot at it,” McDougall said. “If he runs rampant on us, it's going to be a long night.”
No matter what happens on the field tonight, though, McDougall said he will be proud of his team for achieving their goal of reaching the playoffs.
“We may win on Tuesday night, we may lose on Tuesday night — but I know we'll be better for it. Maybe these kids that have never been to state before, if we lose, they'll learn a lot from it and they'll bring it back next year.
“Anything is possible. I really feel like having so many teams in Division I this year and only 16 qualifying, it's the cream of the crop. You could easily see some upsets in the first round and I hope that we're one of them.”
Erin Redmond can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6880. Find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/YSErinRedmond.