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Conference Champs in soccer; wrestlers advance to State
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The first weekend in February was a huge one for Maricopa sports fans. The Boys Soccer team began their quest for State Championships at Benedict Park in Tempe. Meanwhile, the Wrestling team competed at Empire in the Regions match with qualifying wrestlers in all but two weight divisions.
The undefeated Soccer team began their playoff bid with a Friday night game against Canyon State Academy of Queen Creek. The Rams played with characteristic energy and teamwork, handily outscoring their opponents. Irving Garcia drove hard with three goals, as did Aaron Mendez with two goals and two assists. Sammi Flores rammed home two goals before taking over as goalkeeper, where he was credited with three saves. Francisco Flores, Erik Saucedo, and Carlos Cano each scored one. Tony Archuleta got credit for two assists, and Dylan Foti, Arturo Leon, Chris A. Lyons, and Chris C. Lyons were each credited with an assist. What a night it was, with a final score of 10-1, and the whistle sending them home as conference champions.
Saturday afternoon the Rams returned to Benedict Park for their second game, this one against Antelope, rated third in the league standings. Their amazing undefeated season, the heady win the night before, and the short rest and long traveling times all contributed to a devastating loss. Sophomore Armando Cano had a busy game, credited with 18 saves as goalkeeper. But at the final whistle, Antelope was on top 3-1, stalling Maricopa’s quest and ending their season.
Although sorely disappointed, our Rams should not be discouraged. Their season goes down in the record books as 16-1 overall, with 10 conference wins – one in overtime – and one playoff win. Also they won the non-conference but highly coveted Miami Invitational earlier this season and will soon have that trophy on display. Soccer is a new sport to Maricopa, the 3-year-old program playing against some teams that are very well established. They have proven themselves more than worthy.
Jack Berg and his son Jason, the assistant coach, are not finished yet. “We still have work to do,” Jack stated. “First, to get our seniors placed for next year so their student and athletic futures continue.” Four of his players are graduating seniors. Carlos Saucedo, team captain, is a leader on the field and in the classroom. He plans to attend college in state and has the credentials to go pretty much where he wants. Irving Garcia is currently listed as the second-highest scorer in the state and tenth in the nation. He will also be going on to college. The other two, according to Berg, are unsure of their college plans and may be headed out of state. “We are helping them look at their options; it’s part of our job,” stated the coach. “If they go out of state, we will be sending them with letters of introduction to help them along. These boys are student athletes – meaning that first, they are students.”
Secondly, they must keep their remaining boys focused. They have fourteen players returning next season, eight of them starters. “Actually we will be better off next year,” says Berg. “We will have seasoned players who also have experience in playoff games, who can help lead the under-classmen.” Their job as coaches is to translate that experience into a vision for the future. They will likely move up to the 4-A conference next year. Coach Berg intends to be up to the challenge.
In Tucson, wrestling Coach Mark Hidalgo led his qualifying boys through the Regions tournament. “It’s been a good year,” he stated. “It’s my first year as a coach; I’m still figuring things out and most of my boys are first year wrestlers.” He started with 37 boys and went into the Regions with a record of 32-10 in dual meets. Not bad for a first year team.
Of the ten boys who qualified for the Regions, seven will continue to the State tournament. Only two are experienced wrestlers. Ty Mundt won third last year at state; he will compete this year in the 125 weight class. JD Masterson also placed third last year at State. He will compete this year in the 130 weight division. The other five boys are first-year wrestlers: Travis Moore will compete in the 135 class, Matt Sanders in the 140 class, Luis Ochoa in the 160 class, Aldrich Dabu in the 171 class, and Michael DePaz in the 215 class. “The kids did a great job,” States Hidalgo. “I am proud of these boys.”