4A Soccer Quarterfinals Preview
February 11, 2019 by Andy Morales, AZPreps365
Kelly Pierce led Salpointe to back-to-back state championships as a player (1998 and 1999) and now she can do it as a coach. Technically, the Lancers have won the last two 4A state championships in a row but the 2017 championship team was led by Becky Freeman and Pierce took over the spring before the 2018 championship.
This year, No. 3 Salpointe (14-2) will host No. 6 Prescott (14-3) in the quarterfinal round for a shot at that third championship since 1999. The Lancers are led by seniors Grace Kaufman-Fuller, Kate Connelly and Aryanna Sanchez while the Badgers will take the pitch with juniors Sawyer Magnett and Emma Alvarez. The duo account for over half of the team’s 70 goals. The highest finish for the Badgers was a couple of runner-up finishes in 2010 and 1999.
Salpointe beat Prescott 5-0 in the semifinal round last year.
Top-seeded Thunderbird (13-0) lost to Salpointe 4-0 in the 2017 championship match and Flagstaff knocked them out of the quarterfinal round last year. The Chiefs got revenge on the Eagles in their first match of this season and that 8-5 victory set off an undefeated campaign to earn the No. 1 seed. Thunderbird will face off against No. 8 Seton Catholic (12-3-1) in the quarterfinal round this year. Seniors Lexy Aguilar, Megan Hurley and Xitlaly Hernandez combined for 67 goals to lead the Chiefs.
No. 2 Arcadia (12-2-2) will take on No. 7 Sahuaro (14-2) in the bottom half of the bracket. Senior Ainsley McMahon leads the Titans and the Cougars sport a handful of freshman that will make the program hard to beat for a few years to come. Senior Claudia Roller and junior Nayeli Vidal lead the Cougars. Arcadia earned a runner-up finish in the 5A Conference in 2017 and the Titans made it to the 5A semifinals last year.
No. 4 Flagstaff (10-4-1) will host No. 5 Catalina Foothills (13-6). The Eagles might be looking for revenge from last year but the Falcons won the 4A Kino Region which is arguably the toughest in the state with Salpointe, Sahuaro and No. 9 Canyon del Oro joining the Falcons. Juniors Samantha Slaughter and Brianna White lead the Eagles and senior Tatianna Lizarraga leads the Falcons.
On the boy’s side, Gila Ridge won the 4A championship last year but the Hawks are ranked No. 23 this year and were eliminated in the play-in bracket. No. 1 Salpointe (13-5-2) lost in the semifinal round last year to Cortez but the Colts earned a No. 3 seed and are on the bottom of the bracket. The Lancers will host No. 8 Amphitheater (12-7). Seniors Eric Galindo and Alfonso Cabrera lead the Lancers.
No. 2 Tempe (14-3-2) has never made it to a finals match but the Buffaloes made it to the semifinal round last year. Tempe will play No. 7 Catalina Foothills (12-7). The Falcons were bumped in the first round last year. Junior Jonathan Rodriguez and sophomore Yahir Gomez lead the Buffaloes and senior Ryan Whitney leads the Falcons.
No. 3 Cortez (12-0-2) is matched up against No. 6 Prescott (12-3). The Colts earned a 4A runner-up finish last year and the Badgers missed the playoffs. No. 4 Flagstaff (12-2) is taking on No. 5 Douglas (12-5-2). Douglas made it to the quarterfinals last year and the Eagles lost in the play-in bracket. Seniors Marco Avitia, Hayden Lucas and Sebastian Soto lead the Eagles this year.