|Jamal Moncibaez scoring a goal. VVN/Travis Guy|
|Miguel Gonzales. VVN/Travis Guy|
After beginning the season a perfect 4-0, the Mingus Union boys' soccer team hosted the Mohave Thunderbirds and had its streak broken with a 2-1 loss.
As head coach Calvin Behlow said, there were many possible things that factored into the game but at the end of the day, the Marauders were not playing their brand of soccer and the better team won on Jan. 4.
"I woke up this morning (Jan. 4) thinking something wasn't right," Behlow said. "I had my sweeper, the cornerstone of the defense, comes down with an ear infection yesterday. There's five or six things that we can blame it on, but when it comes right down to it, we just didn't play our game. We played this boom-ball game that is so against everything that we thought of for the last eight weeks of the season. Everything's been on the ground and we just played this boom-ball, it didn't work."
Coming into the game, the boys were beat up and dealing with injuries. Senior Omar Maria played minimal minutes at the beginning of the contest. Junior Rueben Contreras was taken out of the game with a back issue in the second and the Marauders overall were not in the greatest condition.
"We shouldn't be beat up," Behlow said. "We're only five games in, we shouldn't be this beat up so we've got to get healthy and get back to playing Mingus soccer."
Another factor was the span between games. Mingus' first four were played over the course of 16 days. That was the amount of time from its last win, 2-1 over Northwest Christian on Dec. 19, and its first loss. Yes, there were good practices over break, but the momentum was lost.
No. What it eventually came down to was the Marauders plan of attack. Playing "boom ball," the boys would send the ball soaring down field, hoping one of the strikers would intercept it. Instead, it was the Thunderbird defenders that would intercept and send the ball back. Jahir Jacobo, Ryan Talbot and the other speedsters on the Marauders sidelines did not have their breakaways and one-on-one with the opposing goalies. Shots on goal were attempted from 20-plus yards out instead of moving the ball around the goalie and making him mess up.
"We never sit there and take shots from 40-yards just to shoot shots from 40-yards and for some reason we thought we were going to be able to beat a 6 foot 8 inch keeper, a 6 foot 8 inch, 220 pound keeper who moved well enough to get to every part of the goal," Behlow said.
That is not to say that the game was a total let down.
The first stanza was scoreless. In fact, the first goal scored was with 27 minutes remaining. That put Mohave up 1-0, but it was not a new place for the home team. Being a slow starting team, they were used to being down on the scoreboard and not opening up scoring until the second half.
Down on the opponent's side of the field, Mingus Union launched a corner kick and senior Omar Carrillo nailed a header past the Thunderbirds as their goalie was in the air attempting to stop it. The crowd went wild and the players began to celebrate.
Then the whistle came. While trying to get into position, a Marauder got under the airborne goalie and knocked him over. The refs called off the goal and the possible game changer.
"In all honesty, I think the better team won tonight, whether that (the called off goal) goes in or not, we would have had some problems," Behlow said.
Then the dagger came. In the final 10 minutes of the contest, Mohave snuck one by senior goalie Noah Rivera to put the Thunderbirds up 2-0.
Not to be shutout, the Marauders kept fighting.
In the waning moments of the game, another corner kick was kicked by the Thunderbirds goal. Jamal Moncibaez jumped over Mohave defenders and connected head to ball, putting it past the goalie.
With the crowd fired up, the Marauders attempted to tie the game, but with seconds left, they were not able to tie the game.
With the loss the Marauders move to 4-1 on what is still one of the more successful season so far. There will not be a chance for Mingus to avenge the loss, but it does have the ability to make a statement in its next few games.
First up are the middling Falcons at North Pointe Prep on Jan. 8. The Falcons are currently 1-3, with their only win against a winless Mesa Prep.
After that game, the real test comes. The Maruaders will take on three "ranked" opponents (aia365.com had not released ranking yet, but all three are in the top-5 of Division-III, Section-I.).
First is Scottsdale Prep on Jan. 9. The Spartans occupy the top spot in Section-I and are considered the No. 3 team in D-III, according to azcetral.com. The Page Sand Devils one spot, No. 4, behind Mingus in the sectional rankings, travel to Cottonwood on Jan 14. Then the Marauders venture to Scottsdale Christian, No. 5 D-III, S-I, azcentral.com No. 7, on Jan. 16. They finish the murders row with Sedona Red Rock at home on Jan. 22. That span of four games will pit the best in D-III, S-I against each other and shape the post season.