Somehow, some way, you just knew it was going to end like this.
The penalty kick was mighty kind to the seventh-seeded Mountain Pointe boys soccer team Tuesday night, as the host Pride scored on all five of its overtime PKs to knock of rival Desert Vista, 2-1 (5-4 PKs), in the opening round of the Class 5A-I state tournament. The game marked the third consecutive meeting between the two Ahwatukee Foothills Rivals to be decided by penalty kicks, following last year's regular-season finale and this year's season-opener -- both Desert Vista wins.
“They got us inthe last two,” Mountain Pointe coach Brian Sabato said. “But you never want to see any game, let alone a playoff game, go to penalty kicks. They defended very well, and we defended very well.”
After Desert Vista, the bracket’s 10th seed, took a 1-0 lead into halftime and then deep into the second frame, Mountain Pointe’s Brandon Hanson was taken down deep in Thunder territory with about six minutes to play in regulation. The official flagged Desert Vista for the foul inside the box, allowing Hanson to knot the score on the ensuing penalty kick.
After the teams went scoreless through the two 10-minute overtime periods, Mountain Pointe – with Hanson, Ricardo Ardon, Lucas Martinez, Ryan Leach and Shawn Groves kicking, in order – knocked through each of its penalty kicks to end the Thunder’s season on the spot.
Matthew Bondreud, Kenneth Parker, Dylan Scaggs and MacKenzie Paquette scored on penalty kicks for the Thunder, but it was a miss by No. 2 shooter Kevin Jackson – a strike that went dead-center over the crossbar and through the football goalposts – that provided the difference.
“I think second-half was just a bit of maturity,” Desert Vista coach Michael Rabasca said, noting that he only had four upperclassmen – two seniors, two juniors, the rest freshmen and sophomores – among his top 11 players. “I think what I tell the kids, there’s nothing to be ashamed of ... or to not say that because of this game our season wasn’t a success. It was a success.”
Desert Vista goalkeeper Chris Gosselin appeared to have a save on Martinez’ PK attempt for the Pride, but the officials conferred and said Gosselin came off the line early, allowing Martinez to shoot again and pick up the score.
Early on, The crowd on hand between the two Ahwatukee Foothills rivals was decidedly in favor of the visitors from Desert Vista. But as the Mountain Pointe boys basketball home game against Desert Ridge let out just before the start of overtime, much of that crowd shuffled toward Karl Kiefer stadium to watch the Pride soccer team move on to the second round, where they'll take on Chandler Hamilton.
After Desert Vista jumped out to its early lead – thanks to a nifty move just outside the box by Paquette to beat Mountain Pointe goalkeeper Kevin Kadisak with 11 minutes to play before halftime – the momentum slowly shifted the Pride’s way in the second half.
Mountain Pointe’s Ricardo Ardon found himself one-on-one with Gosselin on multiple occasions, but Ardon couldn’t capitalize on the chances. In one spot in particular, Ardon appeared to have a breakaway toward an empty Desert Vista goal after Gosselin came out to try and beat him to the ball. Both players got to it virtually simultaneously, and the ball slowly squirted toward the goal. Ardon was the first one to it just feet from the goalline, but as he set up to kick it in from an awkward angle, it was the Desert Vista midfielder Bondreud who made the save of the night, getting his leg in front of Ardon’s seemingly wide-open shot and preserving the lead for a time.