An entire season can come down to one play. A missed assignment, a bad bounce, a failed kick, a penalty in the vicinity of the goal, and it’s basically all over.
And Jim Thames knows this all too well. In his fourth season as coach of the Mesa Red Mountain boys’ soccer team, he has seen enough of his team’s archrival to know that one missed opportunity could be the difference.
That was clearly evident Saturday afternoon.
“We struggled with some missed shots early on, but our defense played well, and our goalkeeper blocked a lot of hard shots that came his way,” Thames said. “And that’s exactly what you want to see in a close game.”
And indeed, it was close.
Austin Fares scored on a pass from Zach Harmon after eight minutes in the first overtime as Red Mountain beat Mesa Mountain View 2-1 in the East Valley Region championship game at Red Mountain High School.
The goal was the second of the game for Fares. He also scored on a kick at 11:43 in the first half. That goal was also assisted by Harmon.
Mountain View, which earned the chance to play in the region championship by beating both Mesa Dobson and Mesa earlier in the week, scored first on a kick by Tyler Rhoton at 23:14 in the first half.
Mountain View thought it had taken a 2-0 lead on a kick near the goal by Rhoton at 20:52 in the first half. But the linesman ruled that Red Mountain goalkeeper Michael Smith had possession of the ball.
“I asked Tyler about that play and he confessed that he did kick the ball out of the hands of the goalkeeper,” said Mountain View coach Kevin Sullivan after the game. “What else could I say, if it counted we would have won.
“It was your typical Red Mountain-Mountain View tussle,” he later added as an afterthought.
The Toros (9-11-1, 3-4) had an opportunity to win the game in regulation when a kick by Carlos Bustillos missed and hit the crossbar as time expired.
Smith finished with 11 saves for the Mountain Lions (13-5, 4-0).
Jered Hunt finished with 16 saves for the Toros.
Red Mountain hosts Chandler Basha on Tuesday. The Bears have defeated the Mountain Lions twice this season.