Perfect seasons are hard to obtain in any sport. Even title squads slip-up now and then. Not Casteel. Not even without a senior class. They've outplayed everyone in their path for the better part of two seasons. With a fighting good defense and a balanced offense, the Colts captured the peak of the 3A Soccer world tonight 2-1 over No. 11 Yuma Catholic.
It was not how they were accustomed but good teams need a challenge now and then.
Just before the half freshman Scarlett Frohardt found the net from right next to the Shamrocks keeper to get the No. 1 Colts on the board. In the second-half more oddities ensued. Injuries added to the test until just after the hour mark.
Anger was in-and-out, Frohardt suffered a leg injury, and of course freshman speedster Renee Sainz was out after a broken collarbone in the semifinal. But a break went the Colts way as fate would have it.
An own goal in the 62nd hit the net just past the keeper and Dillen sent the crowd into hysteria
It was eventually the difference in this contest. Kylie Ibach got the credit as she was closest.
"We're going to take it. Sometimes you need a little break once in awhile. We felt it was coming, we were pressuring them for a bit. With our approach in the second-half I'd say it was due," McKenna Radder said.
This perfect season issue wasn't really discussed much by Coach Jason Hammonds and his young Colts squad. Not counting an AZ Showcase "exhibition" defeat to 6A Mountain Pointe, the Colts were perfect.
But entering Saturday's 3A State Title contest it was obtainable. Even their remarkable goal differential (+124) meant nothing if they couldn't finish over 80 minutes on Saturday afternoon. It was about overcoming these postseason hurdles.
In the 18th they faced their second deficit of the season as Shamrock freshman Ariana Leamons found the net beating Kyli Swann. Hammonds felt that woke them up.
"That was a little frustrating but we've been too good defensively for awhile. I knew the girls would fix it. Statistically we have the best defense in the country for a reason."
A bold statement but nothing about this group is isn't. From the power suits Hammonds rocks every night, to the unprecedented "best defense in country", to the injuries to their two best offensive weapons. All that for adversity. But the young Colts (just like in football) finish on top prior to stepping up to 5A.
Casteel overcame an early deficit in the quarters against Gilbert Christian. They've been there and done that. They trailed midway through the first half again tonight.
But a team that builds off their defense and strikes with the best of them wasn't going to stay quiet for long. Junior Samantha Anger reflected on the offensive continuity.
"This is a team effort. I'm not in the position to do what I can do up top without the others. We are a team. Everyone contributes. That's what makes this special. With Renee (Sainz) out we stepped up a little more. I've been sore with different ailments myself. It's more satisfying knowing your teammates have your back.”
But 125 goals on a season has to start someplace. The back-line was sensational all 23 games. Even last season (a first round upset defeat). Katie Martin, McKenna Radder (when she dropped back), Zoey Chambers, among others clearing literally everything. Twice they got beat. In 1800 plus minutes.
"Just can't say enough about my defense in front of me. It takes all 10 in front of me. We were subbing some others in and making lineup adjustments on the go. Injuries are unfortunate but this group works hard, it shows alot," stated junior goalie Kyli Swann.
They're all back together as they shift up two classifications. Hammonds didn't think his defense could get much better. Statistics don't lie. Bring it on 5A.