It took just four minutes for Pinnacle to set the tone in its first-round boys soccer state tournament match against Hamilton. The aggressive Pioneers parlayed a loose ball into an amazing bicycle kick goal by Mason Robertson to take an early lead.
With Luis Manta setting the table, Hamilton’s patient, fundamentally-sound possession game ruled the day in a 3-2 win on Wednesday night which put the No. 9-seed Huskies into the Div. I state quarterfinals Saturday right back to Brophy where they were on Wednesday night.
The No. 1 Broncos eliminated 16th-seed Tucson High 3-0 in the late game on Wednesday, setting up a rematch of last year’s state title match won by Hamilton in overtime.
“You see that stuff in training but as soon as that happened I knew I would have to do something special to get it back,” said the captain Manta, whose corner kicks set up the second and third goals. “We’ve come from behind all season and had some good results. So I knew as soon as that happened, that we could rally together and make something happen.”
In the first match on Wednesday, Manta took all the corner kicks for the defending state champion Huskies and had several chances. In the 49th minute, with the score tied at 1-1, Manta had back-to-back corners. He kicked the second one short to Nolan Barth, who got it back to Manta for a pass into the box which Tyler Patel put away to give Hamilton the lead.
Less than four minutes later, Manta had another corner, placing it more traditionally in the mouth of the goal, finding the head of Dayne Johnson. The header was saved by Pinnacle goalkeeper Sean Bouland but Andrew Holland was there for the rebound to put the Huskies up 3-1.
No. 8 Pinnacle kept pushing despite Robertson sitting on the sideline after pulling his quadricep muscle. In the 59th minute, Iszak Fierro got a through ball to Chad Thomas, who fired it past sophomore Hamilton goalie Korey Redding into the right corner of the net and cut the lead to 3-2.
But Hamilton (13-3) held off the Pioneers. Robertson returned 14 minutes before the end and created a chance for himself only seconds after getting back on the field. But Pinnacle could not get the tying goal, ending its season at 18-3-1.
Pinnacle was without a couple of key starters, including forward Nick Semintendi, which left the Pioneers at a disadvantage, said coach Brock Heykoop.
“We’ve had a lot of adversity the last week or so,” he said. “We had some boys step up but unfortunately it didn’t fall our way tonight.”
For Hamilton, overcoming the psychological edge Pinnacle took with an early goal and the way it was scored was the key.
“We’ve been there before,” said Hamilton coach Nick Markette. “These boys have been in deep water before. We didn’t lose our heads at that point. We figured we would systematically go at it and do what we did.”
Manta agreed, adding that when Connor Follet tied the game at 1-1 in the 28th minute, he felt the momentum change. Manta had his shot saved but Follet buried the rebound from close range.
“When we were down, I knew we had to do something to turn it on,” Manta said. “Nolan crossed me that ball, I knew I had to beat the defender and take the shot. When that happened and Connor Follet put it in, I knew from there we were going to win. Everything was clicking.”
The Huskies had plenty of opportunities all night, with Manta leading the way. But the opening salvo had the Brophy soccer field abuzz with talk of the play worthy of an ESPN highlight.
The game’s first real chance came on the fourth-minute play. Pinnacle’s Antonio Briceno got his leg on a ball on the right side just inside the 18-meter area and got it over to Robertson.
“Antonio played it in and I had no idea what to do,” the Washington-bound standout said. “So I just thought, what the hell, just try it.”
Robertson said his 31st goal of the season wasn’t the only time he has tried the acrobatic backward scissors kick.