You kind of got the feeling that for 44 minutes Saturday night, Pinnacle’s girls soccer team was avoiding the inevitable.
The Pioneers were pitted against top-seeded, unbeaten Tucson Catalina Foothills in the 4A Division I championship. While Pinnacle held the Falcons scoreless in the first half, there was a feeling in the air, as the second half started, that a volcano was about to erupt.
Four minutes into the second half, it did. The Falcons scored twice within two minutes and rolled to a 4-0 victory at Arizona State to close out a 26-0 season.
“Obviously, we were hanging on (in) the first half,” Pinnacle coach Kevin Rathkey said. “We weren’t really executing our style. We’re a real young team. We’ve got a lot of freshmen and sophomores and I think they were a little intimidated. They played tough.
“Once they got the first goal, obviously, it broke it open a little bit.”
That first goal was a thing of beauty. Tamra James booted a shot from deep in the right corner that hit the far goal post. Sam Monahan was camped in front of the net and the rebound came right to her, giving her an easy point-blank shot.
Less than two minutes later, Stephanie McCurry scored on a penalty shot. The goal seemingly zapped the life out of the Pioneers. Catalina Foothills added two more goals in the next 11 minutes before coach Charlie Kendrick started clearing his bench. Kendrick came away impressed with both teams. “Kids stepped up today,” Kendrick said, “just a very well-balanced effort by the team, I thought.
“I actually didn’t think they (the Pioneers) sat back as much as I thought they would. They tried to attack us and tried to play us pretty much straight up. They obviously defend very well and that’s why they’re here, I’m sure.”
While she was understandably dejected, Pinnacle junior midfielder Anna Clark thought the Pioneers fared well.
“We played hard and we tried to stay positive the whole game,” Clark said. “It’s all right with us.
“We got down a little. They are pretty good but we could have beat them.”
As the Falcons (17-6-1) watched Catalina Foothills celebrate, Rathkey reminded his team what a good season it had.
“I said this doesn’t take anything away from the season at all,” Rathkey said. “It’s unbelievable when you think of how many teams are around the state and are not in this game. This is a start. We’ll be back, hopefully.”