Winter wonderland
Desert Vista's Christopher Byrd advances the ball on a re-start as his Thunder teammates try to gain position against Mesa Mountain View in a 1-0 win in the Class 5A Division I first round. By Jason P. Skoda, AFN

MESA - The weather played such a large role that Desert Vista boys soccer coach Michael Rabasca did not know how well his team truly played.

All that matters at this time of the year is coming away with a victory and his team did just that.

Ninth-seeded Desert Vista advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class 5A Division I state tournament with a 1-0 victory over eighth-seeded Mesa Mountain View on Wednesday night in inclement, chill-to-the-bone weather.

"The weather had too much of an affect to really say how they played," Rabasca said. "I was proud that they did what they had to do to find one goal and get out of here with a win."

With winds gusting heavily from north to south, it was nearly impossible for the team trying to score on the north goal to make scoring opportunities. Desert Vista played toward the south goal in the first half, and came away with what turned out to be the only goal of the game. In the 30th minute, sophomore Mitchell Abernathy scored with an assist from Tyler Angell.

"All goals are being scored on the south end of the field. Any game out here, that is what's happening," Rabasca said.

In the second half, it was just the opposite as Mountain View went on the attack with the wind behind them. The Toros were thwarted by senior goalie Chris Gosselin. Gosselin came up with crucial saves late in the game en route to a shutout.

"We came out with a game plan to keep our heads straight on. You can't control the weather so you just had to work with it," Gosselin said.

It cannot be understated how important a role the weather played.

"It was a tale of two halves. First half we were able to get near the goal. Second half, I don't think we entered their 18-yard box," Rabasca said. "The weather played a big role."

Goalkeepers were unable to kick the ball with any authority when facing the north. Each half was played on the south side of the field, with both defenses scrambling to make due against such harsh conditions.

In the end, it was Desert Vista's goalie and defense that led the Thunder to victory.

"It was trusting my defenders. I wouldn't be able to do anything without them," Gosselin said.

The win gives the Thunder a mark of 13-5-1, excluding the California tournament they played in earlier in the year. Desert Vista will face top-seeded Brophy, the very same team they upset two weeks ago, Saturday.

In a game that could have gone either way, Desert Vista came out on top.

"We are glad to be in the quarterfinals," Rabasca said.

Kemp is a freshman at Arizona State studying journalism.


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