At times, Hamilton senior Daniel Arrubla seems disinterested in chasing down the ball when it looks like he could run it down if he wanted to.
But he's not the kind of goal-scoring forward that needs to possess the ball as much as he can, and he isn't running all over the field, burning energy to fight for the ball.
"One of our coaches, coach (Harlod) Calvo, always tells me to make sure I'm not overworking myself," said Arrubla. "In the first half, I would drop back a couple times to help out on defense, and he was telling me to take it easy a bit so I can save my energy for the attacks when I know I can get the ball."
Arrubla's ability as a goal scorer was on full display on Wednesday at Campo Verde High School, as the Huskies' forward tallied four goals to lead Hamilton to a 5-0 win over Chaparral in the Division I boys soccer state tournament semifinals.
"On another day, it could have been different," said Hamilton coach Nick Markette, whose team will be playing in the state championship match for the third straight year but is still searching for its first title. "We focused on certain things going into the match and they played the way we had anticipated.
"We were fortunate at times. (Chaparral) is a very good team, a very dangerous team and they will be around for a while."
Fourth-seeded Hamilton will take on No. 6 seeded Brophy, the team that beat the Huskies in last year's title match, at 6 p.m. Saturday at Campo Verde High School.
"This one means a lot considering we played (Brophy) last year and we were that close to taking the trophy home and just fell short for the second year in a row," said Arrubla, who has played in the past two title games, both 1-0 losses, first to Corona del Sol and then the Broncos last season. "It's just a little thorn in the side and I'm hoping this year we can pull through with a win."
Chaparral, who was the top-seeded team in Division I coming into the tournament, peppered Hamilton senior goalkeeper Kiyan Pirgheybi early on. The Firebirds rattled off six good shots on the Huskies goal, two from Corey Matics, but Pirgheybi was up to the task on each one.
Pirgheybi, who finished the night with 13 saves, set up Arrubla's first goal with a booming goal kick that found Arrubla, who slipped by two Chaparral defenders and then pushed an extra touch past the goalkeeper before firing a left-footed shot into the net with 25:45 left to play in the opening half.
One minute later, Arrubla struck again, this time taking advantage of some sloppy play by the Chaparral defense, cleaning up a loose ball in the middle of the penalty area and sending a shot off the keepers hand and into the net.
"I thought that Chaparral's defense wasn't going to let me work with the ball," said Arrubla. "It came as a bit of a surprise to have that much space in the game."
Arrubla, who pushed his school-record goal total to 39 with the four goals on Wednesday, seemed to spring to life at just the right moment on all of his goals. He was careful to conserve energy when he could, but did not miss when a scoring opportunity presented itself.
"I know the defenders on this team, so I know I can use my speed to my advantage," said Arrubla. "When Luis (Manta) gets the ball in the midfield, I always look for the over-the-top ball because I know I can get to it."
Hamilton emptied its bench in the second half, as two more Arrubla goals pushed the lead to 4-0. The Huskies tacked on their final goal with 12:08 to play when Armando Gonzalez was the benefactor of some good passing and converted on a point-blank opportunity.
The Huskies dressed nearly 30 players for the game, including several freshmen, and Markette sees the whole experience as a valuable one for the younger players in the program.
"We want thtme to taste these things and taste these moments and learn our traditions from the bench," said Markette. "It prepares them to feel our culture."