A playoff drought has befuddled the Basha girls soccer team in recent years, but after another tournament championship last week, long-awaited relief could finally roll through the Chandler school.
The Bears’ postseason hibernation dates back to the 2007 state tournament, when the Bears were the No. 16 seed in the 5A Division I tournament and were handily beaten by No. 1 Corona del Sol in the first round.
Since then, it’s been a series of misses both distant and close.
On New Year’s Eve, Basha defeated Campo Verde for a third time this season in the championship match in the Dobson Soccer Classic (each of those three matches was a 1-0 final in favor of Basha). The Bears again got solid defensive play, and their offense arrived in the latter stages of the second half to repeat as Dobson tournament champions.
Greg Johnson’s team is now 11-1-1 on the season (the lone loss being 1-0 against Mountain View in the first match of the season) primarily because the Bears have allowed three goals in those 13 matches this season, including 11 shutouts. Seven key contributors returned from last year’s team, so the Bears knew before the season began this could be their best team in his four years at the school (and beyond).
Last year, the Bears won the Dobson Soccer Classic over Campo Verde, but the Bears had already played — and lost — against a gauntlet of elite opponents in Desert Vista, Highland, Red Mountain and Perry in regular season matches. Even with a few more wins in the latter stages of the 2012-2013 regular season the strength of schedule was excellent. But without a couple power rankings wins in matches against those top teams, the Bears were left out of February’s frenzy.
With 2013-2014 being the beginning of a new two-year scheduling block, the reverse is shaping up. The Bears’ strong start to the season came in-part because it didn’t have those elite teams in the November and December months, which means the slate is about to become more arduous with the likes of Hamilton, Perry, Highland included through the rest of January.
In other words, Basha’s 10-8-2 record with a strong strength of schedule last year wasn’t quite enough. This year, Basha is on pace for a better record, but with a possibility the overall strength of schedule might not reach last year’s level.
Postseason problem solved? Or is history ready to be repeated?
We’ll find out in a few weeks.
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune assistant managing editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.