Here are possible reasons why Danny Arrubla may have felt cursed:
Hamilton lost two consecutive state championship matches in nail-biting fashion, in which Hamilton had chances to win one or both of them. Arrubla, the team’s best offensive player, had to sit out this year’s Division I first-round playoff match against Avondale Westview because he’d contracted a stomach virus the night before, and had to watch by himself from the bleachers while still contagious as Westview took the early lead.
“This all had to happen now?” he said in hindsight.
But the Huskies came back and won, a theme that was repeated again during the playoffs. For a third time, the Huskies made the big-school championship match. Once again, they trailed 1-0 into the late minutes of the second half.
The Buffalo Bills phenomenon was on.
“I was a little worried. Riggs (Lennon) scored for Brophy and it was, ‘Ugh, it had to be this guy again.’ I kept reminding myself and everyone that this was our last game, we’re not giving up this game early. I felt like we’d given up a bit early (the previous two years).”
Along with better defense and a few requisite fortunate bounces, teammate Jordan Fletcher turned the possible jinx off with two goals in a 110-minute, 2-1 victory for the school’s first state title, but it was Arrubla who led them there and unknowingly led himself to being the Tribune Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
Despite missing the first-round playoff match (and two other matches during the regular season), his 39 goals were a school record, including a state-record four goals in the semifinals against Chaparral.
That school record had been bantered about late last year, given Arrubla’s strong junior season. But that was about the end of his thought process until the Phoenix Carl Hayden match in the state quarterfinals, when he returned from his illness and scored his 35th of the season, a match-clinching goal in a 2-0 win that broke Tony Cascio’s record.
That’s not what he remembered most about the past four years — or four months — as he spoke from Colorado, where he was checking out a higher-level of soccer that he hopes to play at either Colorado, or perhaps Metro State University.
“I just wanted to win and the team to win,” he said. “It is a big deal but I think soccer is about the team, not ‘me, me, me.’ It was a good feeling in the Carl Hayden game knowing what had happened. As quick as it happened it went away. We had to get to the finals and I promised myself I wasn’t going to lose a third time.”
The local player to be singled out was Desert Vista senior midfielder Cesar Sandoval, who was named to the second team, grab the attention of opposing coaches.
“He plays with a chip on his shoulder, which I think is good and I wish I had a few Cesars on my team,” Sabato said during the season. “He has a tremendous work rate and I’ve seen his technical skills improve dramatically over the last year-and-a-half.”
All-Tribune First Team
Name School Yr. Pos. Comment
Riggs Lennon Brophy Jr. F Whopping 51 goals as a junior, including eight hat-tricks, and 14 game-winners.
Cody Schultz Gilbert Jr. F Gilbert District POY had school-record 32 goals and 10 assists
Danny Arrubla Hamilton Sr. F Tribune POY with speed, skill and school-record 39 goals including four in semifinals
Tyler McGehee Brophy Sr. MF Captain was heart and soul of Div. I runners-up with effort, skill and determination
Boston Kimmel Chaparral Sr. MF Most skilled player with 10 goals and 15 assists; headed to Chapman University
Ed Magana Corona Sr. MF Opposing coaches knew Magana and Ellis Rutili controlled middle of field
Luis Manta Hamilton Jr. MF Main setup man for Arrubla offensively; Played another level during state tournament
Michael Truty Notre Dame Sr. D 15 goals, 16 assists, including big goals against Desert Vista and Catalina Foothills
Mark Matiski Chaparral Sr. D Considered one of the best defensive players in the state; sorely missed vs. Hamilton.
Tyler Gillaspie Gilbert Sr. D Four-year starter anchored Tigers’ excellent backline that had 12 shutouts this season
Cesar Cervantes Coronado Jr. D Captain and heartbeat of defense that carried Dons to first championship appearance
Kiyan Pirgheybi Hamilton Sr. GK School-record 17 shutouts; Solid late in championship match allowed teammates opp. to come back
Player of the Year: Danny Arrubla, Hamilton
Coach of the Year: Mike Tsorin (Coronado): Won the coaches vote after leading a squad with only two seniors to the first championship match in school history before falling in a Div. III championship heartbreaker to Phoenix Cortez. Daryl Chavez (Marcos), Jeff Perry (Gilbert), Sasha Hunter (Chandler) and Nick Markette (Hamilton) also received strong considerations.
All-Tribune Second Team
Name School Yr. Pos. Comment
Jesus Villegas Chandler Sr. F Top player on surprising Wolves shared Div. I, Section II POY honors with Arrubla
Jesus Garcia Coronado Jr. F Creativity fueled team captain who led the Dons with 28 goals and second with 14 assists
Nathan Rice Gilbert Sr. F His 18 goals included eight game-winners along with 10 assists
Danny Molina Marcos de Niza Sr. MF Captain and emotional leader played through injuries to help re-shape Marcos’ program
Dean Stevens Notre Dame Sr. MF Four-year starter and made an impact everywhere in the field with lightning speed
Will Ellis Chaparral Sr. MF Great ball control and skill led to him being Firebirds’ offensive instigator,
Cesar Sandoval Desert Vista Sr. MF Captain and leader of young Thunder was best offensive threat
Danny Segura Mesa Sr. D Top defender all season for squad (5-7 in PP matches) that had 7 of 12 PP matches go into OT
Charlie Dukes Gilbert Sr. D 10 goals and 10 assists while marking oppositions best midfielder.
Clarence Clark Brophy Jr. D Converted to def. as reserve striker, Brophy’s most important defensive player in center
Zach Von Allworden Corona del Sol Sr. D Physical and big meant he often stopped other teams’ offenses and counter attacks by himself
Nate Sundermeier Brophy Sr. GK 39-4 overall with state title (2011), runner-up (2012) and 29 SHO in last two years
Honorable Mention (Locals only)
Desert Vista: Chris Byrd, Jr., GK; Jack Collier, Sr., F; Nick Mangialardi, So., F.
Memorable Moments from the 2011-2012 Season
Third try is true: An impressive-on-its-own third consecutive trip to the big-school state championship match forHamiltonwas finally met with the ultimate reward. After losing in close calls to Corona del Sol (2010) and Brophy (2011) the previous two seasons, the Huskies got another shot at the Broncos. Things looked eerily similar yet again when a Riggs Lennon goal meant a 1-0Hamiltondeficit midway through the second half, but the Huskies had Jordan Fletcher. Both sides gave themselves chances that didn’t stick, until the soft-spoken junior midfielder redirected a corner kick to tie the match at 1-1 with 11 minutes left in regulation. After two overtimes and one sudden-death, Fletcher did it again and was hoisted up by his teammates a few minutes later after winning the first championship in school history.
Coronado reaches first title match: A team with two seniors and plenty of starting freshman and sophomores wasn’t short on confidence. Mike Tsorin’s Dons weren’t secrets during the regular season having earned the No. 3 seed in the Div. III state tournament, but a school with diverse backgrounds of students while short on resources made the school’s first-ever championship run. Wins against Tucson Catalina, Gilbert Christian, and a late goal againstDouglasset the stage for a title showdown with Phoenix Cortez.Coronadocouldn’t convert a PK in the opening minute of the match, suffered a quick defensive lapse that led to a 1-0 Cortez lead and the Dons couldn’t convert its dominating possession time and numerous opportunities in a 1-0 loss.
Marcos de Niza’s turnaround:Coronadowasn’t the only feel-good story this season. Marcos de Niza won a total of seven matches in the previous three seasons, and hadn’t had a winning season (or postseason appearance) since 2007. Thanks to a shift in scheduling/alignment and former assistant Daryl Chavez’s work in replacing Greg Vanney, the Padres went 12-0 in regular season power point matches, then beatPhoenixWashingtonto begin the state tournament before the Padres fell to Tucson Catalina Foothills. For years of what Chavez referred to as “nothingness,” Marcos found the power of a quality GK in Victor Sanchez, plus Naveed Khosraviani, David Ieng, Jose Segura and its bench. More importantly, it found a passionate, committed group with which to build a brighter future in a once-potent program.
Mtn. View/Skyline melee: The stories weren’t all feel-good this season. Skyline andMountain Viewplayed the first of two consecutive PP matches in late January, where play became increasingly tense and hostile toward officiating, parents and players. WithMountain Viewleading 3-1, the match was eventually called by the officials with approximately 15 minutes left because red cards prohibited Skyline from fielding enough players. That’s when a melee broke out between the teams and led to 18 red cards issued to Skyline and six toMountain View. The total of 24 red cards were issued between the two schools, which are also automatic one-match suspensions, and Skyline forfeited the match and regular season finale.
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.