In the final minutes of tightly contested soccer matches, when it starts becoming more physical and frenetic, the difference can often be superior individual talent.
Players who can make plays on their own find the open space while avoiding the big hits and close out the match with their natural scoring ability.
Desert Vista has two young players who fall into this category in sophomore Tatum Heeres and freshman Olive Jones.
“We work great together and it is only going to get better,” Heeres said. “We are excited about the years to come.”
This Thunder-ous twosome can be dynamic with the ball at their feet in different ways.
Heeres is a speed demon who can break away from a cluster on the wings and beat the goalie on most one-on-one situations, while Jones is more physical and works the center of the defense.
“It’s a nice one-two punch to have,” Desert Vista coach Marvin Hypolite said. “They open up our offense and let us do so many things.”
It has worked so far as Desert Vista is 11-3 overall after going 6-0 in the Arizona Soccer Showcase with a 2-1 win over Mountain Pointe during winter break.
The tandem has scored 19 of the 32 goals this far as Heeres had the initial goal in the championship match against the Pride and Jones had three goals in the tournament.
Heeres is up to seven goals and five assists on the year to follow up a terrific freshman campaign that saw her finish with 16 goals and eight assists.
She had a bit of a slow start to the season after breaking her right ankle in August while playing club ball.
“I was a little hesitant at first,” she admitted. “I was scared (taking a shot) because I broke it taking a shot. It was rough coming back and it was a long recovery, but I am glad to be back now, getting past it and playing for DV.”
Hypolite said he has seen a difference in Heeres the last few matches after dealing with the mental side of the injury.
“Now, she is getting back into it and I am seeing the same player she was last year,” he said. “At first she was thinking about things instead of playing, but now she is back to being herself.”
Jones, on the other hand, has been a force from the start after scoring her first two goals against Chandler on Dec. 3. She has added three other two-score games and a two-assist match as well to rank among the top 10 in goals scored in Arizona, according to MaxPreps.com, with a total of 12.
“This is a different level because they are bigger, stronger and 18 years old,” she said. “I just keep working and (the goals) just happen (in the flow of the game). I’ve always been one of the top scorers and it has carried over to high school.”
Hypolite said Jones is only going to get better with time even though teams are now more aware of her after the hot start.
“She has a soccer IQ that is a compliment to her athleticism,” he said. “What she has to work on is match maturity. She has to get better on her decisions like when to penetrate or be a creator. All of these things will come as she plays at this level.”
The same could be said for the tandem as they should only getter better with time as well.
“We don’t want to become dependent on them to do it all,” Hypolite said, “but they’ve shown they can handle it and we’ve done a good job of getting them the ball in a position to do some damage.”
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