Members of the Chaparral girls soccer program held up four fingers as cameras flashed around them.
The girls, grouped together near the home sideline on Campo Verde’s turf field, were in the midst of celebrating their fourth straight state championship, the second at the 6A level.
Fueled by senior forward Isabella Struckman’s three goals, the top-ranked Firebirds defeated No. 7 Hamilton 4-0 to win the championship. All four of Chaparral’s championship wins have come at Campo Verde, the Firebirds’ “home away from home.”
“All four of our titles have come on this field,” Struckman said. “The Campo Verde field, our home away from home.”
Chaparral pressured Hamilton’s back line throughout the first half, challenging Huskies goalkeeper Asia Hart.
Hart, however, remained poised in net. She racked up seven first half saves on nine total shots by Chaparral. Despite the Firebirds’ ability to dominate possession and numerous trips inside Hamilton’s box, the two teams remained scoreless through the first 40 minutes of play.
“The girls came out with an intensity and drive, I’m just so proud of them,” Chaparral coach Robyn Carlson said. “We went at it first half, but we knew we had to keep up our intensity and the goals would come."
Chaparral continued to pressure Hamilton’s defenders in the second half. Another shot on goal by Chaparral, its 10th of the game, was saved by Hart.
Finally, in the 42nd minute, the Firebirds broke the tie.
Struckman’s shot went across Hart’s face and into the far side of the net, sending the Chaparral faithful into a frenzy.
“First half we felt like we should have been scoring, we had a lot of chances we just weren’t finishing, which was frustrating,” Struckman said. “I think we knew once we got one, we could open the floodgates and get it going. It was nice to get that first one.”
The Firebirds continued their relentless pressure and Struckman scored again eight minutes later in the 50th minute, this time off an assist from fellow senior Chloe Steinhilber.
Just nine minutes later, freshman middle fielder Sami Fisher extended Chaparral’s lead to three goals.
Hamilton tried to answer Chaparral’s goals on several occasions late in the second half. Corner kicks were sent away by defenders, and clean looks at the net were corralled by Firebirds goalkeeper Avery Fletcher, who had five saves on the night.
The meeting between Chaparral and Hamilton was the third during the 2019-20 season. On Dec. 17, the first meeting, the two teams tied 1-1. On Dec. 30 in the Arizona Soccer Showcase, Hamilton won 2-0.
Chaparral’s redemption was also a family affair for Carlson, who’s two daughters, Lauren, a junior, and Mikaela, a freshman, are both on the varsity roster.
“When they were little, they shared these experiences with me but to have both of them on the same team now is pretty cool,” Carlson said. “It’s amazing to see the intensity and drive pay off.
“Just to see all of these girls start off as freshman and learn from the seniors to now, it’s an amazing feeling.”
Following the girls’ win, Chaparral’s boys soccer team took the field as the No. 2 seed to play top-ranked Brophy for the 6A state title.
Chaparral scored early on in the match but couldn’t contain the speed of Brophy’s midfielders, as two second-half goals helped the Broncos defeat the Firebirds 2-1 and win the 6A crown.
“Brophy gave us everything they had, they deserved it tonight,” Chaparral coach Jason Speirs said. “It’s hard for them right now to think about it but they worked as hard as they possibly could. It just wasn’t in the books for us tonight.”
Chaparral’s lone goal came in the 7th minute of the match. A corner kick led to a deflection by Brophy’s keeper in the direction of Chaparral senior forward Aysa Hamid, who found the back of the net.
Strong defensive play by Chaparral throughout the rest of the first half helped the Firebirds maintain their one-goal lead.
Goalkeeper Cole Johnson stood strong in the net for Chaparral, as he recorded 6 of his 11 total saves in the first 40 minutes of play. Brophy’s midfielders consistently gained possession on Chaparral’s side of the field, challenging the Firebirds back line.
In the 54th minute, Brophy senior forward Mathew Hartman scored to tie the game. Just 6 minutes later, Anthony Hidalgo gave the Broncos the lead.
As time was winding down, Chaparral’s forwards created opportunities to potentially send the game into overtime. However, the Firebirds were unable to capitalize.
Brophy stormed the field as the buzzer sounded, signaling the Broncos successful title defense.
“(Cole Johnson) gets up for big games, that’s the kind of goalkeeper he is,” Speirs said. “We needed to do more than just depend on him tonight. We had a chance to tie it or even win it. We just didn’t take advantage of our opportunities.”