PHOENIX - The Desert Vista boys soccer team had its season came to end Saturday afternoon after falling just short to top-seeded Phoenix Brophy, 1-0 at Reach 11 Sports Complex in the Class 5A Division I quarterfinals.
Brophy's Riggs Lennon scored a goal off a deflection in the 79th minute in a game that seemed destined for overtime. Lennon one-timed it as Desert Vista goalkeeper Chris Gosselin was down after he deflected the previous shot.
The Thunder came out with the same defense that worked so well for them earlier in the year against Brophy.
Desert Vista packed it in, playing a 5-4-1 defense, that makes it tough for teams to score. In its upset of nationally-ranked Brophy, the plan on offense was going over the top and getting the ball to Brian Piotrowski as well as counters.
However, the Thunder did not come through on any of their opportunities Saturday.
A major factor in the game was the dimensions of the field. Desert Vista's home field is much smaller than the fields at Reach 11 Sports Complex, where the quarterfinals were held.
"We used the same game plan that we used last time, but the big field makes it harder to be successful with that game plan," said Desert Vista coach Michael Rabasca.
Brophy (22-1-1) was able to utilize its speed up front to make scoring opportunities.
"I was telling my boys that they have to attack the corners because on a field like this there's a lot of space out there," Brophy coach Mark Kelly said. "Everything is kind of negated when you have a tiny field like at Desert Vista."
By spreading strikers out wide, Brophy made it tougher on Desert Vista to pack it in without being left vulnerable on the corners. Goalie Chris Gosselin played a solid game and held Brophy in check for nearly all of regulation until the Brophy attack became too strong.
"In the end, we eventually broke them down," Kelly said.
Brophy controlled the ball for most of the first half, but did not come away with any goals. Desert Vista held the momentum early in the second half, but toward the end of the game Brophy started to get the ball out wide, using the large field to its advantage.
"It's difficult to play on these big fields when you've been playing on small fields all year," Rabasca said.
Even with the large field, Desert Vista held Brophy scoreless for most of the game. In the last five minutes, Rabasca changed things up and went with a more offensive formation. Rabasca said it may have cost them, but they were playing to win.
"We wanted to beat them in regulation. We weren't looking forward to overtime or penalty kicks," Rabasca said.
The down to the wire win sends Brophy to the state semifinals, where it will continue to be favored to win it all. While nothing is as sweet as winning, "if you go out losing to the best team in the tournament, I think you have accomplished something," Rabasca said
Desert Vista ends the year with a 13-8-2 mark. The Thunder showed great promise in upsetting a team as talented as Brophy and then playing neck-and-neck with them in the quarterfinals.
"I'm very happy for my team this year," Rabasca said. "However, we still have a lot to do to win a state championship."
In other Class 5A Division I boys matches, No. 12 Mountain Pointe lost 2-1 to No. 4 Yuma Kofa at Yuma Cibola High.
Kofa scored the winning goal on a questionable penalty kick ruling.
The Crimson struck first less than five minutes into the match and a battle of the midfields ensued. The Pride tied the score with 12 minutes left in regulation when Ryan Leach converted a penalty kick following a hand ball in the goalie box to tie the score at 1-1.
But with four minutes left in the second overtime, Kofa was awarded a penalty kick after the assistant refereee overruled an original ruling of a standard goal kick after Kofa kicked the ball wide of the net.
A couple steps later the Kofa player collided with Mountain Pointe player inside the goalie box and was awarded a penalty kick, which the Crimson converted to win the match.
Kofa will play No. 1 Brophy in the first semifinal on Thursday at 5 p.m. at Campo Verde H.S.
Tribune staff reports contributed to this article.
Kemp is an Arizona State freshman majoring in journalism.