When a soccer team is more technically sound than their physical opponent a tone has to be set in the early going to let it be known there will be no intimidation factor.
Desert Vista’s Tate Schmitt took care of that Saturday afternoon with a goal less than six minutes into the Division I quarterfinals match against No. 6 Gilbert as the third-seeded Thunder went on to a 3-0 win.
“We came in with a good game plan and the first 10 minutes helped out a lot and settled our nerves a little bit,” Thunder coach Mike Rabasca said. “Gilbert is a pretty direct team. If you can manage the set pieces, long throw and nonsense it is fairly simple. If you get into the nonsense then it becomes something different.”
The Thunder advance to Thursday’s semifinals against No. 10 San Luis, which upset No. 2 Corona del Sol, one of the few teams to beat the Thunder this season. The match is at 5 p.m. at Campo Verde.
Nicholas Mangialardi added two more goals (5 in two postseason matches), the second a something of wonder as a Gilbert defender and goalie converged on him at the same time. The slide tackle upended Mangialardi and as he was in the air he twisted for a bicycle-type kick and popped the ball over the goalie and into the empty net.
“Gilbert is a hard working team so when you get outworked it really sends a message,” said Rabasca, who doesn’t let his players talk to the media. “He looks bionic out there with everything he has wrapped.”
After that second half was pretty much catch-me-if-you –can as the Thunder (17-4) played solid enough to defense, Rabasca cited the back four as playing really well, to ward off any real threat by the Tigers.
Gilbert coach Jeff Perry knew it was going to be a tough task once the Tigers fell behind early.
“We let it get away from us pretty quick and with the quality of players they have it was going to be hard,” Perry said. “We’ve had a good season. We lost a lot of kids from last year’s team so we were young, but we did some good things.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.