The Arizona Interscholastic Association soccer season wrapped up late Saturday with the girls and boys 6A high school championship games. Here’s a roundup of those games:
6A girls: Xavier cruises past Perry 4-1, wins third straight title
No. 1 Xavier Prep lived up to their ranking on Saturday, besting No. 3 Perry 4-1 to win the AIA 6A girls soccer championship and finish the season undefeated.
“This was our best team,” said Xavier head coach Barbara Chura. “This was one of my best teams in all of coaching. Whatever happened today, we were the best team. From back to front, depth wise, and a very heavy-laden senior team. When you have the talent we do and the kids we have, they’re amazing people.”
The two teams met in the regular season, a 1-0 Gators’ win in OT over the Pumas. This one wasn’t nearly as close.
Xavier Prep opened the scoring Saturday following a free kick that was dispatched by senior forward Larkin Thomason from close range. Perry responded, as sophomore forward Ashlyn DeLemos equalized for the Pumas via a free header on goal. The first half ended tied.
But Xavier responded in the second half with three goals, two of which came from forward Eva Allen, securing Xavier’s third straight state title.
“It’s huge,” said Allen, about Xavier’s three-peat. “The best part is I get to represent Xavier. When you’re playing for your teammates and for my coach, Coach Chura, it means the world. After we won, I literally got the chills, it means everything.”
Xavier looked composed throughout the match. Chura said the team’s chemistry was a major factor all season.
“They love each other,” said Chura. “It’s very evident off and on the field, and it shines through on the field. All of that work of building a team, it happens off the field, and then you hope it translates to the field. It does for us; we work really hard at it. They got rewarded, and they deserve it, they were the best team.”
The Gators had 10 seniors on the team this season, including Allen.
She scored the final goal of the game, a perfectly placed longshot from 20 yards out. For Allen, it meant a lot to go out on top in her final game, and the goal was just the icing on top.
“It was just so surreal,” said Allen. “This is my last time I’ll play for Xavier, so ending it like that was awesome. It’s not about myself, it was for my teammates and state.”
6A boys: Perry stuns undefeated San Luis 2-0, takes home trophy
No. 2 San Luis, which entered Saturday’s title match undefeated, had designs on finally breaking through for the boys’ championship, but No. 5 Perry had other ideas.
The Pumas opened up the scoring with a solid finish from senior forward Hudson Deutsch, who toe-poked the ball in to make it 1-0. Deutsch was surprised he scored to give Perry the early lead.
“My heart just stopped right there,” said Deutsch. “I really didn’t know what was going on. I couldn’t believe that we scored. Then when I got to the corner, I was silent, I didn’t know what was going on until it came back to me.”
In the second half, Perry added a second goal from a long throw-in by sophomore midfielder Aidan Yen, which found junior forward Tyler Haren’s head to make it 2-0 to close out the scoring.
San Luis, which knocked off perennial power Brophy in the semifinals, created more chances, but Perry was simply more clinical.
The Sidewinders, which lost in the 6A final two seasons ago, came into the game boasting the best defense in the state, only letting in four goals all regular season and in tournament games combined. Perry became just the second team this season to put multiple goals past San Luis, a school located in the small border town south of Yuma whose team has risen to go toe-to-toe with big-school programs from the Phoenix area.
Perry head coach Jason Berg had is players were able to create matchup advantages.
“We had a couple of good matchups that we were able to get in behind, and the ball went our way, so that kind of helped,” said Berg. “Credit to them (San Luis), they’re a great team, have a great back line, and there’s a couple of those guys in the middle that are fantastic.”
According to MaxPreps, Perry has 15 seniors on the team, including Deutsch.
“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had, especially with these guys,” said Deutsch. “It’s nothing like club (soccer programs), will never be like club, this is just so much better.”