Gilbert High's boys soccer team was on a tear heading to Wednesday night's match with nemesis Hamilton. In the Tigers previous four matches, they'd won all four by a composite score of 22-0. Gilbert played well again, just not good enough in the waning minutes to make visiting Hamiilton its next victim.
Hamilton snapped a scoreless tie in the 60th minute and scored twice more in the final 12 minutes to post a 3-0 win in a
Division I contest matching the top two teams in the power rankings.
Hamilton improved to 17-1 overall, and 9-0 in power-ranking matches. The Huskies only loss came in late December to Ironwood in the Arizona Showcase Tournament at The Reach. Gilbert (15-4, 9-1 prm) lost for the first time since late December in the same tournament.
"We made an adjustment at halftime and thought we could get into them in the final third," Hamilton coach Nick Markette said. "We came out right away with a good chance and got a couple more. We were able to get the space we wanted and kept it up. After a while it's a numbers game, and we got a good look on the first goal."
The first goal came courtesy of Tyler Patel, who stayed at home right of the goal and when possession came his way had plenty of room to fire a low shot in the net at the far post from about 10 yards out..
Goal No. 2 came in the 68th minute. Hamilton, hustling and challenging just about every ball all night, deflected one near midfield that ended up at the feet of Connor Follet. Follet took it home out as Gilbert keeper Dylan Fedor challenged him high, but Follett got enough on the shot to roll it in. The third goal was scored in the 78th minute by Sean Holland.
Fedor had an outstanding game for Gilbert. He collected 12 saves, including one point blank. Hamilton ended up with about twice as many shots as Gilbert, but an inch here or there or a different spin on the ball on three or four shots and Gilbert might have led big early.
"I felt we were OK after the first 15 minutes," Markette said. "They had a couple near misses early. Gilbert does what they do well. (Gilbert coach) Jeff's (Perry) teams are as consistent and dangerous year to year as any."
Despite being outshot, when Gilbert did have an opportunity many didn't miss by much. Two in the first 10 minutes by Ryker Seifert hit the post. In the 37th minute, Austin Carver's laser singed the the top of the cross bar. The Tigers hit the far post on a corner kick in the 49th minute that Hamilton was able to clear.
"We had some good chances," Perry said. "We could have been up 2-0 early maybe 3-0 the first half. We didn't get a lot the rest of the way, but when we did they were good ones....
"They kept coming at us in the second half. I had a feeling a goal was coming. On their first goal we had a breakdown and they took advantage. They're good. Very good. Maybe we'll see them again."