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YC boy, girls ready for first-round playoff matchups
As the players on the Yuma Catholic boys soccer team prepare for its Class 1A/2A/3A first-round playoff game against Valley Christian, they do so without their second leading scorer.
The Shamrock girls have them beat – they go into their playoff opener missing both their leading scorer and starting goalie.
Both Shamrocks play at 5 p.m. Saturday at Red Mountain Park in Mesa. The boys, seeded sixth, face No. 11 Chandler-Valley Christian on field six. The girls face No. 5 Florence on field two.
With wins, they advance to the second round – something the Kofa boys did on Wednesday when they beat Alhambra 5-0. The No. 4 Kings play at 1 p.m. Saturday at Raiders Field against No. 12 Mountain Pointe, which dispatched San Luis.
For the YC boys to make the second round, coach Ralph Evans said the Shamrocks (10-3) have to knock off a team they tied against earlier this year at the Shamrock Shootout. The Shamrocks won the tournament because they beat Palo Verde, while the Trojans (8-4) lost.
They’ll also be playing without Jorge Zavala, who trailed only Chris Hill in goals scored this year. Evans said Kody King might move out of the goal box and up front, but isn’t sure if he wants to take the two-time West Region Player of the Year out of the net.
“Jesus (Valdivia) might play if Kody is up front,” Evans said. “He’s as good up front as he is in the box, but there’s no one better than him in the box.”
Evans said it’s a tough blow to a team that’s been building chemistry throughout the course of the year.
“We just started meshing,” Evans said. “We were playing well and everything we worked all year for was coming to fruition. It really hurt us, set us back a little bit. But we have enough players that I don’t think it’s the end of it for us.”
The girls’ team is in much worse shape from a health standpoint. Ali Quintana, a four-year starter who led the team in goals and assists this season is out for the year. The Shamrocks (7-4) are also without goalie Makela Jackson against the Gophers (10-2).
Coach Jesus Quintana said that Ashley DeCorse and Amanda Ordaz will help pick up some of the leadership duties the Shamrocks miss without Ali Quintana. Evita Jaramillo will be in goal.
The Shamrocks have some experience in being such a low seed but still having playoff success. They made the state semifinals last year after entering the 12-team tournament seeded 11th. This year, they earned the final seed.
“We do have some experience,” Jesus Quintana said. “They know the level we need to play to. It’s just a matter of going out there and playing to the best of our abilities. We have to play our game. We can’t stand back on our heels.”
Kofa, the only undefeated team in AIA games in 5A-I, already played its first round game and is waiting for Mountain Pointe. The Kings (12-0) got to watch the Pride (8-5) top the Sidewinders at Raiders Field before they dispatched the Lions.
Kofa coach Jamie Nicewander said that local pride may play a big role in motivating the Kings.
“We’re looking forward to playing them and demonstrating we’ve got good soccer in this area,” Nicewander said. “Unfortunately, San Luis was knocked off. They’re a good quality team, and Mountain Pointe was backpedaling the whole second half. San Luis was really taking it to them in the second half. … It’s just the way the cards fall sometimes. The better teams don’t win on certain nights. But they got the win. That’s what matters at the end of the day. It may be ugly but they got the win.”
The winner will face either No. 1 Brophy or No. 9 Desert Vista in the state semifinals at 5 p.m. Thursday at Campo Verde High School in Gilbert. The winner of the YC boys game advances to the quarterfinals at 3 p.m. Saturday at Red Mountain against No. 3 Florence or No. 14 Sedona Red Rock. The winner of the YC girls advances to a quarterfinal also at 3 p.m. Saturday at Red Mountain against No. 4 Sedona Red Rock.