Boys soccer: Hamilton gets the jump on Tolleson

February 9, 2019 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

Tolleson keeper Joshua Aguilar (neon jersey) defends a corner kick eventually tallied by Hamilton's Thatcher Cooper (#2 dark jersey) in the Huskies' 3-1 win. (AzPreps365 photo).

Hamilton's boys soccer team timed its scoring plays well Saturday afternoon. The Huskies scored the first goal 11 minutes in. The second a couple minutes into the second half and the final one on the heels of visiting Tolleson pulling within a goal with more than 20 minutes left to play.

It added up to No. 3 Hamilton's 3-1 triumph over No. 14 Tolleson in a 6A first-round state tournament match.

Hamilton continues its 17-3 season under first-year head coach Lance Thompson in next Tuesday's quarterfinals. The Huskies play host in that night to Premier Region rival and No. 11 Perry. Perry advanced with a road victory at No. 6 Tucson, 2-1. Tolleson finished the season 10-7-1.

"I know (Tolleson) is a reputable program that always plays opponents tough," Thompson said. "We went in trying to improve on what went wrong against Brophy in our last game. We had some defensive components from the Brophy game we learned a lot from. We were much better today with that and it was good to see."

While the defense was sound the offense supplied wiggle room. Hamilton's and the match's first goal was the prettiest of the contest. Senior Channing Chasten delivered his 11th assist of the season threading a nice cross to hard-charging Riley Lynch from point-blank range. The Huskies dominated much of the half, but Tolleson coach Ben Andronic saw a good sign heading to intermission.

"I thought the last 10 minutes of the first half we started playing the way we play," Andronic said. "I felt good going to the second half."

Hamilton put a crimp in that feeling just three minutes into the second half. Huskies' assist leader Jonas Votaw served up a corner that induced a scramble deep in the box. Thatcher Cooper tapped in the loose ball and Tolleson was down 2-0.

Tolleson, however, got some life in the 58th minute on a 35-yard free kick winner from senior Christian De Los Rios. It was a one-goal game again and the Wolverines were buoyed by the goal -- for three minutes.

The latter part of the second half saw the action getting more tense and physical and yellow cards were being dealt. The most devastating yellow was for a foul in the box by Tolleson that gave Hamilton a penalty kick in the 61st minute. Junior Jesse Maldanado, the Huskies' top scorer, fired low and just inside the right post past the diving attempt of keeper Joshua Aguilar. 

"That hurt," Andronic said. "It demoralized us. We couldn't get back on track."

The loss not only ended the season for Tolleson, but Wolverines' players learned after the match that Andronic is stepping down as coach after seven seasons. He decided this would be his last year before the season began, but didn't tell his players until postgame Saturday so as not to distract from the season ahead.

"The program is moving in the right direction," an emotional Andronic said. "I'll still be at Tolleson, watching games. My assistants will still be here and they've been around for quite a few years. The program is in good hands."

Andronic's best season was 2016-2017. The Wolverines posted a 20-1 mark falling in the 6A final that year to Gilbert, 1-0. On the way to that title match, Tolleson defeated conference powers Chandler, Corona del Sol and Brophy Prep.