Desert Vista High School’s boys soccer team on Saturday ended a 12-year drought and secured the state 6A boys championship with a 3-0 win over Brophy Preparatory Academy.
Both teams seemed a bit tense early on, and the match appeared like a track meet in the first couple minutes as the Thunder and Broncos launched long balls from their respective halves of the field.
Neither team had much luck with possession early on, turning the ball over frequently and not getting touches near the goal.
For the last 20 minutes of the first half, the teams seemed to settle down, and Thunder coach Trent Elliott said he knew that his team would play with more energy and spirit if they could manage to get a goal.
“I think that they were probably a little nervous, as they should be, and that’s just what they needed. We needed somebody to attack and get that goal,” Elliott said.
The first half ended 0-0, but both teams came out firing after the break.
With 27:38 left in the game, Desert Vista secured a throw on Brophy’s side of the field. A long throw to the left post was tapped in by senior midfielder, and Butler commit, Brendan Hicks.
After a brief celebration, the Thunder played the rest of the game with a visible swagger, knowing they needed to not back off but keep attacking.
“I think the big thing is that they got down on themselves,” Lischwe said.
With 23:51 on the clock, Lischwe blasted a free kick from outside the box, which junior forward Jayden Bourg calmly slotted into the back of the net with his head, causing an even louder celebration.
The two set piece goals in a span of less than four minutes proved to coach Elliott that his assessment of Desert Vista’s set pieces being a strength was correct.
“I think if you line us up to anybody in the state we’re going to be bigger than them,” he said. “So, any time we can get a chance to be down and get some of our bigger guys in the goal, that’s what we’re going to do, and today it worked out.”
Brophy did not give up, pushing midfielders and attackers forward. But Desert Vista’s combination of excellent defense and goalkeeping kept the Broncos from any significant scoring chances.
“My center backs had me the entire way. They just kept everything together, trying to keep me calm, because I get riled up in the back sometimes,” senior goalkeeper Logan Rabasca said.
Elliott said a state championship was the players’ goal all season, and they accomplished that goal in just his first season
“Knowing them, I knew it was going to be something special.” Elliot said. “We had senior leaders, and everything we needed. We just needed to put the pieces together. They believed, and they believed the whole season long,” he said.
A third goal, slotted in by senior forward Max Wennes with 3:16 left in the game, put an exclamation point on what already appeared a secure victory.
Brophy came into the tournament as the top seed, and many believed the favorite in the championship game. But, it came as no surprise to the Thunder that they walked away with the trophy, especially for Lischwe.
“It feels amazing. I’m not lying about this,” he said. “I dreamt this last night, and I never woke up from the dream.”
The Thunder finished the season 19-4-2 and were undefeated at home after their 7-2 victory over No. 10-seeded San Luis in the quarter-finals.
While they accomplished a lot, the state champions will have to fill a lot of holes led by their talented senior class.
Their leading goal-scorer and their talented center-midfielder will be moving on next year. Elliot will still return several talented under classmen, like Bourg, Lischwe and sophomore Brennan Kline.