It’s not as if Ashley Hatch hasn’t made big plays, scored big goals and come through in the clutch numerous times already in her three years as a varsity starter on Highland’s girls soccer team.
This was different. When Ashley March made two diving saves of Hamilton penalty kicks, this Ashley, fittingly given her value to the Hawks, had the season sitting at her shoes.
Not only could Hatch’s penalty kick clinch Highland’s first state championship in school history, but the junior forward missed a penalty kick against Goodyear Millennium during the Hawks’ eventual PK victory in the Div. I state tournament quarterfinals exactly one week prior.
After the celebration, she found out her freshman sister, Brianna, was going to be next in the PK pecking order had Ashley not converted.
Put it all together, and no other lifetime moment (sports or otherwise) yielded such clenched teeth and a churning stomach of anxiety.
“I’m pretty sure that was the top,” she said. “I didn’t think about it. I didn’t know I was the one (who could clinch the championship). I was so nervous I wasn’t even thinking about it. I remember missing before (against Millennium) so don’t do the same thing.”
She didn’t, and after a few years of oh-so-close, the Hawks won the Division I state championship.
Hatch’s speed, aggressiveness and skill have been on display in high school soccer since she was a freshman, but even with the BYU commit’s bubbling potential, it was about deferring to the seniors of two and three years ago.
Not so anymore. Her school-record 33 goals and 20 assists — many of which went to Bri — she’s now the tutor.
“It comes with being in high school,” she said. “As freshman you look up to the older ones. I know I definitely looked up to the seniors and I think the younger girls do the same. I lead by example and me doing my best will be passed along.”
They often stayed after practice for more practice, and while Ashley took some satisfaction when she passed Bri for the team-lead in scoring earlier this season, they have to live together, go to school and play soccer together for one more year.
Ashley’s watched the state championship video “over and over again and still have that same feeling.”
Though “still on Cloud 9,” from soccer, she’s running the 100 hurdles, 400 dash and 4x400 relay for the track team while playing club soccer. A core group of these Hawks — the Hatch sisters, March, Jaden DeGracie, Bre McCarter and Brena Jarvis — will be back next season to defend this championship.
“We knew if we wanted to win a state championship, we all had to do it together,” Hawks coach John Berzins said. “If it’s sacrificing yourself a bit than that’s what we needed to do. That was our sell all year and it worked out.”
The same could be said for Hatch’s second chance with sudden-death. Having worked out nicely in their favor twice during the same state tournament, surely the Hatch family is a huge fan of penalty kicks?
“I’d rather win during the game,” she said. “I don’t think penalty kicks are fun. I like to watch them but I don’t like to be in them.”
Desert Vista junior midfielder Kelly Watson was the only local player to receive first-team honors after helping the Thunder to a 19-4 season.
“Kelly played at a very high level,” Thunder coach Marvin Hypolite said. “She is a very aggressive player and a game-changer.”
• Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.
All-Tribune First Team
Name School Yr. Pos. Comment
Sam Demarco Perry Jr. GK Single-handily beat Hamilton and stood on her head repeatedly for Pumas
Molly Celler Highland Sr. D Captain was heart of back line that gave up 15 goals in 25 games, 15 shutouts
Kellie Peay Xavier So. D An obvious choice by coaches for her defense and transition abilities
Gabby Martinez Hamilton Fr. D Only she and Rachel Shedd started every game for state runners-up
Dallas Johnson Corona Sr. D Arguably best season of any defender in Corona’s history the past decade
Jaden DeGracie Highland Jr. MF Throw-in abilities without peer; school-record 41 assists, every state match
Hailey St. Clair Mesquite Sr. MF Defended opponent’s best MF and initiate ‘Cats attack, did so supremely
Nichole Walts Xavier So. MF Gifted with great shot, en route to being one of best in Xavier history
Kelly Watson DV Jr. MF Playmaker could score and set up others with help from Jessica Johnson
Kyle Minefield Hamilton Fr. F Glue to freshman core, Huskies leading scorer and often best player on field
Michaela Dooley Xavier Jr. F Constantly double-teamed but after season of 29 goals and 17 assists
Ashley Hatch Highland Jr. F School-record 33 goals, 20 assists, GW PK in Div. I championship match
Player of the Year: Ashley Hatch, Highland
Coach of the Year: John Berzins, Highland: Led Hawks to first state title in school history. Found the perfect mix of intense and relaxed and managed outside distractions while peers praised his team’s preparation and consistency.
All-Tribune Second Team
Name School Yr. Pos. Comment
Laura Glew Hamilton Sr. GK U-18 National team player headed to George Mason University
Emily Maier Red Mtn. So. D Leader of defense that posted 16 shutouts in 21 games; led with 18 assists
Katie Clemmons Chaparral Jr. D Leader of young defense; physically gifted with plenty of growth potential
Missy Kettelkamp Pinnacle Jr. D Took on more responsibility when Jorian Baucom missed time in postseason
Rachel Shedd Hamilton Sr. D Among offensive leaders for ‘11 championship team and ‘12 runner-up
Sydney Schroeder Red Mtn. Jr. MF Mesa city player of the year was workhorse in midfield and best player.
Lauren Doud Pinnacle Sr. MF Picked up offensive slack late in season with excellent state tournament
Brianna Hatch Highland Fr. MF 20 goals, 11 assists made her big-time complimentary player next to sister
Emily Ravenhill Hamilton Sr. F Speedster was first person marked by opposing coaches, defenses
Kaylin Goodenough Gilbert Sr. F 19 goals, 8 assists in limited chances; one of the most dangerous finishers EV
Tianna Stewart Arcadia Sr. F All-Division II standout of speed led Titans to state semifinals
Danielle Nelson Higley Sr. F 28 goals and 7 assists for Div. III quarterfinalists with help from Anne Day
Honorable Mention (locals only)
Desert Vista: Jessica Johnson, Sr., MF; Mountain Pointe: Alyson Coker, Sr., MF.