Tempe had to do something Tuesday night it didn’t have to do all season — rebound from a loss.
A couple of good bounces, a revitalized attack and solid defense moved the fourth-seeded Buffaloes (14-1-1) into the quarterfinals of the 4A-II state boys soccer tournament.
“We had that loss and we were hurting,” said forward Luis Lopez after the 3-1 win Tuesday night over visiting Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep. “The coach said we needed to work harder. We are seniors and we don’t want to go home with another loss.”
Tempe, which was undefeated until last week’s loss to Arcadia in the East Sky Region tournament, will play 6 p.m. Saturday at the Tempe Sports Complex against the winner of today’s Flagstaff-Phoenix Sunnyslope match being played in Cottonwood.
The No. 13-seeded Saints (8-11) got the lead early with an 11th-minute goal by Sammi Kaldawi, but his runs from a tight left angle were turned away by a tighter defense and steady goalkeeper Giovani Ocampo, who made a couple of fabulous saves.
“We’ve only conceded 13 goals all year,” Tempe coach Steve Cihomsky said.
“Fabulous defense. It was good for them. They were down and the last time we were down last week, we got blown out (5-0) and it was gut check. I said no more chances — I said if you play smart in the back they can’t beat you.”
Notre Dame lost any momentum it had after freshman midfielder Travis Mayes was whistled for a trip just inside the goal box in the 37th minute. Juan Reyes put the ball in the right corner on the ensuing penalty kick to tie the game at 1-1.
It was only a matter of time as Tempe increased its offensive pressure, nearly getting the go-ahead goal when Lopez and Obedd Fuentes each looked like they would get a clear shot in the 52nd minute but the ball was cleared away.
Less than two minutes later, Lopez was looking to pass the ball into the mouth of the goal from about 25 yards out in front of Saints goalkeeper James Marrs.
“Our goalie lost it in the lights,” Notre Dame coach Oscar Varela said of the goal.
“He looked up and thought it was going out and just didn’t catch it.”
In the 68th minute, Eduardo Cervantes hit the crossbar on a long shot but Fuentes ended up with the loose ball and juked his way for the final goal of the game.