Brophy vs. Tolleson boys soccer semifinal matchup
Division I Boys Soccer semifinal
No. 5 Tolleson vs. No. 1 Brophy
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Campo Verde H.S. (3870 S. Quartz Street, Gilbert)
Outlook: Brophy enters as solid favorites in this matchup – as the top-seeded Broncos have in just about every match this season. Neither the Broncos nor Tolleson played a particularly brutal power rankings schedule of matches, but Brophy played in the elite AZ Soccer Showcase tournament and a nationally elite-of-the-elite tournament in Florida in early January, where they lost in the championship match against a top-ranked team nationally in Montverde (Fla.). That and a 1-0 loss to San Clemente (Calif.) in the AZ Soccer Showcase are Marc Kelly’s team’s two blemishes this season. The wins include a 1-0 win against Tolleson to begin the season on Nov. 27, and while both teams are obviously better than they were then, Brophy was still juggling with its roster and rotations in the first meeting. Riggs Lennon gets the goals and lots of attention from the opposition’s defense, and deservedly so, but this Broncos team is deeper, has plenty of experience in big matches (and remembers last year’s heartbreaking loss to Hamilton in the final) and possibly has more talented than the previous two squads. Brophy, however, is without starting GK Michael O’Connor, who was knocked out and suffered a concussion on a collision with a Hamilton player during the schools’ quarterfinals match. Junior Phil Mourikes will be in goal the rest of the way for Brophy. A win would be Brophy’s third consecutive trip to the state championship match, where the Broncos won in 2011 and lost to Hamilton in 2012. The good news for Tolleson is it played the third-highest strength of schedule among Div. I state tournament participants, and has an idea what to expect in dealing with Brophy’s skill and strategies. It also helps that these schools’ first meeting was on a wide field with FieldTurf (similar to Campo Verde H.S.) having played the first match at Brophy Sports Complex. Tolleson exacted revenge on Westview in the first round (Westview beat them during the regular season) and then beat a good Carl Hayden squad in the quarterfinals to reach this point. Still, this is a different level (maybe two) and Tolleson will have to play the match of its life in the midfield and defensively to have any chance of pulling off what would widely considered to be a huge upset.