PHOENIX - As the pressure mounted, and the shots on goal increased, the Desert Vista girls soccer team responded as championship squad tend to do on the way to close victories.
The defense stiffened, the goalie made stops, balls were cleared and possession was kept long enough to win another Arizona Soccer Showcase title.
The Thunder jumped out to an early lead, withstood a barrage of Hamilton attacks and topped the Huskies for a 2-1 win Friday for the Black Division title at the Reach 11 Complex.
“Coming out of (last year’s title) we have gotten stronger mentally, facing adversity and ready to compete,” Thunder coach Marvin Hypolite said. “Hamilton is a good team, always well coached and ready for a physical game, but we held our own and I couldn’t be more proud of our team.”
The Thunder (13-1) grabbed a 2-0 first half lead on goals from Carly Bych on a header on off a set piece and individual play from Jessica Hale.
The Desert Vista offense put a lot of pressure on the Huskies defense early on and it paid off as the Thunder made precise decisions and passes.
“We are really coming together as team,” senior forward Paige Maling said. “We started really rough, just kicking the ball and chasing it. Now we have calmed down and connected with the ball. That’s what helped us with this game. We weren’t hectic with the ball. We had a purpose and executed.”
It’s usually the case this time of the year as the Thunder generally make the finals of this event annually, and this time Desert Vista had a tough challenge in Hamilton, which lost in the state finals to the Thunder last year.
“We always want to test ourselves against the best teams,” Hamilton coach Nathan Fairchild said. “They are the defending state champs and we want that challenge. One benefit our of roster is our depth. We have confidence in each of them to contribute.
“You started to see that in the end. They were running out of gas a little bit and we were still running at them.”
Sammy Atterbury had the goal for Hamilton (10-1-2) but it wasn’t enough against the Thunder.
“Every time she steps on the field she is doubled and triple teamed, but she manages to find moments of class and brilliance,” Fairchild said. “We are proud of her as she continues to battle and the team for creating opportunities not just for her but for each of us.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JasonPSkoda