Kyle Ciliento has put up gaudy numbers all year. All he needed on Thursday was one to put Phoenix Pinnacle into the 5A-II boys soccer state championship game. He got two for good measure.
Ciliento scored his unprecedented 58th and 59th goals of the season to lift the second-seeded Pioneers past Glendale Deer Valley 2-0 Thursday in the semifinals at Phoenix College.
“A lot of it is my team,” Ciliento said of his unofficial state record goal total. “A lot of them I can’t help but finish. It’s a lot easier to finish than to miss.”
Pinnacle (20-3) will face Tucson Rincon on Saturday at Arizona State’s soccer stadium in the state title match after the defending 4A-I champion got past Glendale Ironwood 3-2 in the first semifinal Thursday.
The Pioneers have done it with offense all year — scoring 146 goals in 23 games going into the final — including five games in which they scored 10 or more.
“They did produce this year, huh,” joked Pinnacle coach Brock Heykoop. “It’s kinda crazy. I’ve had a core of four guys that this team has been built around and there’s been some nice pieces that have been added in the mix. It’s been kind of fun just watching the boys jell as a group.”
But on Thursday, a pesky Deer Valley team, with several scoring threats, kept forcing the Pinnacle defense to make clearances and even tested goalkeeper Connor Redd a bit.
“They haven’t lost, so they obviously have playing well all year, we just kept doing what we have been doing all year and put a couple in,” Ciliento said.
Pinnacle spent the first half searching for some momentum until Ciliento put in a pretty curling shot from 15 yards out after beating his defender.
In the 58th minute, he took a pass from Jordan Wade for a shot in the box past Deer Valley keeper Francisco Marmolejo.
“I don’t think we were settled down,” Heykoop said.
“It took us awhile to get into our game. We just had to play through the nerves and start playing the game like we know how to play.”
Indeed, it could have been worse. Tyler Schultz hit the crossbar and the post on shots late and there were a few other chances but it didn’t matter.
Pinnacle played Rincon in a preseason scrimmage Nov. 14, playing to a 2-2 draw.