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SOCCER: Salpointe girls clinch playoffs, Tucson boys get closer

January 23, 2016 by Andy Morales, AZPreps365


Salpiointe celebrates a section title
(Andy Morales/AZPreps365.com)

The state soccer playoffs are drawing near and some of the teams punched a ticket to the show Friday night while others are still battling for a spot. The No.4 Salpointe girls won the Division II, Section VI title thanks to a 3-2 overtime win at No. 6 Tucson and the No. 3 Tucson boys drew a bit closer to a title thanks to their 3-1 overtime win at No. 16 Salpointe.

The Lady Lancers (5-0) have one more match at section rival No. 5 Ironwood Ridge (Jan. 26) but the Nighthawks have a 3-1-1 record in the section which will give Salpointe the title even if the Lancers lose the match.

Tucson fell to 3-1-1 also but the Badgers are still in a great position for one of the nine at-large playoff spots available.

"Even though we lost this to Salpointe I'm still very proud of my team," senior forward Dana Perez said. "We have four seniors and we have been together since freshman year. This game was challenging and we almost pulled it off but we will move forward. I'm just proud."

Sophomore Sabrina Zepp (Alexis Cardenas) put the Badgers up 1-0 in the 26th minute and that held up until Salpointe freshman Kalista Kakou scored an unassisted goal in the 46th minute.

Paloma Teran scored in a mixer in the 64th minute to put Salpointe up 2-1 but the Badgers tied it up on a goal from Perez (Zepp) in the 78th minute to force overtime.

Kakou (Teran) scored two minutes into the first overtime period and the Lancers held on for the 3-2 win.

"Tucson high is a great team, one of the best teams out there," said head coach Becky Barry. "We are very fortunate to come out with a win. The girls battled."

Only in her second year, Barry already has an incredible 33-6-1 record including 16-1 this year and she credits commitment to the program and game-time composure for the team's success.

The Lancers have the section title in hand but seeding becomes important now with three matches left on the regular season schedule.

Meanwhile, the Tucson boy's team flipped the script with their win at Salpointe but the section title is still not theirs quite yet thanks to a 3-3 tie with No. 15 Canyon del Oro (4-0-1) two weeks ago.

The Badgers have a divisional game with Buena on Monday but end the regular season at No. 43 Catalina Foothills. Win or lose, it is highly likely the Badgers will qualify for the state playoffs again.

The Badgers have built an impressive 55-3-6 record over the last three years. The 2013-14 season ended with a 24-0-3 record and a state championship but their 26-game unbeaten streak was ended by Salpointe three games into the following year and then both teams played to tie later in the season.

The Lancers attempted to end another Badger win streak Friday night but much more may have been on the line. With no shot at a section title, Salpointe needs to finish in the top 16 to qualify for the state playoffs and the loss made it that much more difficult.

"We had great effort and anytime you end regulation with a team like Tucson tied 1-1 you have to believe you did a great job," head coach Wolfgang Weber explained.

"Tucson is an outstanding team and I expect them to play for the state championship. We had three freshmen play about seventy percent of the game so I'm extremely happy. We will fight until the last match."

One of those freshmen, Francisco Manzo (Reed Foster) put Salpointe on top 1-0 in the 50th minute and it looked like it would be a season-saving goal but Luis Mejia tied things up two minutes later.

Tucson outshot Salpointe 15-5 in the first half and ended the match with a 19-7 advantage so things had to start going their way and that's what happened in overtime with Jacob Zepp (Giovanni Ahumada) scoring off of a corner kick seven minutes into the first overtime period and Daniel Suazo (Julian Gaona) putting one in two minutes into the final overtime period.

"We are having a very great year," Gaona said. "This game was full of emotion besides what it means in the standings. It's always tough playing Salpointe. This just means a lot to us."

Gaona and several of his teammates play club ball with Weber and they made an extra effort to give him a hug after the win and Gaona was seen whispering something in Weber's ear after the match.

"I told him I missed him," Gaona said. "He's my club coach and I miss him."