Girls soccer matches to see this week
Similar to the boys, the girls soccer schedule really heats up in the next couple weeks as the regular season winds down at the end of January.
It’s a lot to cram in (3-4 matches per week in many instances) but when the Power Rankings are first released on Tuesday, the jostling and guessing will begin.
(All matches at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted):
Hamilton at Xavier: Like so many other matches on this particular Tuesday, this could easily be a preview of the Div. I quarterfinals or semifinals. Two programs with ample familiarity with one another, ample talent (tons, in fact, especially Xavier) and ample ammunition to defeat the other. The Gators lost a couple matches in both premier tournaments they’ve played in (Horizon’s tournament and Excalibur tournament in California) — including against Pinnacle and Catalina Foothills — but that’s probably not a bad thing. They have Mountain Pointe and Mountain View this week, so it won’t be easy beyond this match either. Hamilton won a couple matches in the AZ Soccer Showcase but eventually lost to Pinnacle and Tucson Sabino, but shut out Corona del Sol, 2-0, on Jan. 4. Can the Huskies keep this match low scoring? Defense is their strength.
Basha at Chandler: A brutal early-season schedule for Basha has given way to a slightly more manageable one (and wins) since mid-December, mostly a 2-1 win against Hamilton and a terrific showing in winning the Dobson Mustang Classic in beating top-notch Campo Verde (Div. II), plus Mesa and Mountain View. A tie with Gilbert on Jan. 4 began the stretch run of this schedule but the Bears have a window to make a run with 3-4 consecutive wins. After a 1-0 loss to Basha on Dec. 20 the Wolves came back from Winter Break with consecutive wins against Mesquite. Chandler won’t have nearly the grind many other schools will, but that schedule is rough moving forward with two matches against Hamilton and two against Desert Vista remaining.
Highland at Gilbert: Rivalry games are fickle, of course, despite the 7-1 outcome in favor of Highland the first time around. The Hawks fell to Desert Vista in the Tempe Diablos Classic championship match, then fell to Pinnacle (1-0) in the AZ Soccer Showcase championship match. No reason to hang heads with those two losses for sure, and the schedule is in Highland’s favor the rest of the way. The Hawks are learning how difficult it is (and will be tougher) trying to repeat as Div. I state champions. After a great start to the season on a favorable schedule, the Tigers hit the skids to close 2012, but a tie against Basha on Jan. 4 isn’t bad, though Highland, Perry and Dobson upcoming could swing their postseason hopes.
Mesa at Mountain View: Meas reached the Dobson Mustang tournament semifinals before falling to Basha, but the 7-3 loss to Mesquite remains a bit of a head-scratcher. After consecutive matchups with Westwood, this match begins a stretch of nine matches to play in the final 16 days of the regular season for Mesa. Mountain View won 4-1 in the first matchup of the season, but we know how rivalries can go. After getting on a major roll, the Toros fell to Basha (1-0) and then lost to top-notch Campo Verde (3-0) to close December. Xavier looms after this one for the Toros, as does four matches in four days next week.
Chaparral at Pinnacle: Chaparral began the season stirring, got a dose of reality in the Horizon tournament against Xavier, but rebounded to tie Tucson Catalina Foothills and picked up where it left off with a flourish to close December. That loss to Xavier is Chap’s only of the season, but two matches with both the Gators and Pinnacle await. Pinnacle beat Hamilton and Highland to win the AZ Soccer Showcase, but this bundle of elite talent found another bump in the road. Coach Kasey Bingham left to take a job at Dixie State, and assistant Adam Chrestman is now running the Pioneers. Not much, however, figures to change on the field despite the in-season coaching upheaval. Chaparral here and Jan. 15 could be Pinnacle’s toughest remaining test as it forms into state championship contention.
Boulder Creek vs. Cactus Shadows: Despite losses to Chaparral, Catalina Foothills and Bonita Vista (Calif.) this season, Cactus Shadows figures to be in the final mix of Div. II title contenders. Boulder Creek (Div. I) ran the table with a favorable schedule until the AZ Soccer Showcase (including a 2-2 tie with Highland), when it lost to Francis Parker. The Falcons, however, aren’t going to be detoured. This is the second of three-matches-in-three-days streak (flanked by Barry Goldwater and Paradise Valley).
Queen Creek at Poston Butte: Queen Creek’s record doesn’t look that great to start (4-2-2 unofficially) but the Bulldogs tied a good Higley team and played in the AZ Soccer Showcase against bigger programs. The Bulldogs have a legitimate chance to run the table from here on out with their schedule (hence playing top competition in the AZ Soccer Showcase). Poston Butte lost 3-1 to QC early in the season, and PB schedule is somewhat similar to the Bulldogs, but with Desert Ridge at the end. PB could be vying for a playoff spot and a win against QC would be a big lift in the soon-to-be power rankings.
Corona del Sol at Desert Vista: DV has won three matchups so far this season, two of which came in tournament. Is there a saying about beating a team four times in a season? Corona del Sol needs some offense, but the Aztecs can still make a playoff push even with this tough match against the undefeated Thunder, a meeting with Mountain Pointe and Phoenix Alhambra on the horizon.
Hamilton at Perry: The good news for Perry is the Pumas managed to get four consecutive home matches in the next week. The bad news being those are against the Huskies, Highland and Gilbert. Not fun. The Pumas also have Mountain Pointe to end the regular season but can earn a few wins in between. These are always intense matches, and a win or two this week could go a long way in earning a playoff spot or not. Hamilton beat the Pumas, 2-1, in late December, and the Huskies won a few matches and held their own in defeat against a couple top teams in the AZ Soccer Showcase (Sabino and Pinnacle). After this week of Xavier (Tuesday) and then Perry the Huskies have a chance to put a mini-winning streak together before the postseason.
Gilbert at Dobson: Gilbert had a rough time through the AZ Soccer Showcase, though the uptick in competition certainly helps the Tigers. But now they need wins, as a three-match losing streak followed by a tie against Basha on Jan. 4 has the Tigers in catch-up mode. Playing Highland (Tuesday), Perry (Wednesday) and Dobson this week doesn’t help those fortunes, but it’s a chance to show they’re playoff-worthy with a couple wins.
Mountain View at Xavier: Xavier will be favored in this match, but it’s a great test (win or lose) for the Toros who aspire to a playoff spot and will get a glimpse of what it takes to compete against an elite team if they want to reach the late stages of postseason play. Mountain View will have to figure out a way to score, which has been tough to do lately, against a really good Xavier defense. Matches with Campo Verde (which beat Mountain View in the Dobson Mustang Classic) and Hamilton in the coming weeks will also be pivotal for Brian Ronan’s bunch.
Deer Valley at Notre Dame: The Saints appear to be a title contender again in Div. II. Gary Gregory’s team has beaten Paradise Valley, went toe-to-toe in a tie with Catalina Foothills and barely lost (2-1) to Desert Vista. This is a rematch from an early December matchup, won 1-0 by Notre Dame (one of the few close matches of the season the Saints have faced). It will be the third match in four days for the Saints this week. After this the Saints’ schedule opens up a bit but two matches against Cactus Shadows loom.