Marvin Hypolite took over a very good Desert Vista girls soccer program that had been to two state title matches and had two other semifinal appearances since 2007.
He didn’t think it was good enough.
Hypolite has a bit of tunnel vision when it comes to winning and only state titles equal a successful season. He is smart enough to know it isn’t going to happen every year, but this just might be the one.
The Thunder beat third-seeded Highland 2-1 on Wednesday evening at Campo Verde in the Division I state semifinals.
Second-seeded Desert Vista (24-2) will take on fourth-seeded Xavier (16-3-3) at 3:30 p.m. at Campo Verde with a chance to win its first state title since 2005 and second overall.
It just might satisfy even Hypolite.
“They are hungry the second time around,” said Hypolite, whose eyes filled with excitement as he talked about the opportunity in front the Thunder. “I’m a winner and I love winning. That’s what it is all about. The girls were disciplined and did everything we asked to them to do. It’s a great feeling.”
It helps when the offense stakes an early 2-0 lead as freshman Tatum Heeres and senior Kelly Watson scored their 15th and 12th goals, respectively, of the season.
It gave goalie sophomore goalie Alexa Ryder a comfort level in front of the net, knowing she could have a slipup – or wiggle room as Hypolite called it - and still get her team into the finals.
“It sets your mind at ease, but you can never stop,” said Ryder, who has nine shutouts on the season. “You always have to be on your toes. It was scary (at times) but I have faith in my team.”
Highland (21-3-2) was able to close within one with 28 minutes and 32 seconds remaining when Ashley Hatch was able to find the back of the net off one of Jaden DeGracie’s mesmerizing flip throw-ins got to the far side of the box. It was just about the only time the Thunder defense was unable to clear it and it cost them.
“They do it so well and it can be hard to defend, but we knew what to do because we played them before,” senior defender Hannah Stevens said. “It’s a great play but we did a good job of stopping it.”
The Hawks, who have 13 seniors on the roster, were unable to defend their title, but coach John Berzins knows the team doesn’t walk away questioning their effort. The second half was mostly spent on the Thunder side of the field, but the Hawks were unable to get the equalizer.
“We put ourselves in a hole early and we did everything we possibly could to dig ourselves out of it,” Berzins said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get the bounces. Some years you need them and we didn’t get the bounces. Six inches here or six inches there.
“Our girls laid it all out there, but somehow we came up short.”
The Thunder have two days to prepare for Saturday’s shot at a state title.
“There’s nine seniors and we figured we had to go all the way and get that ring,” Stevens said. “We are going to have some nerves so we have to come out hard.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or Jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on @JSkodaAFN.