1/18/2014 4:42:00 PM Nelson nets 'beautiful' shot from Kitchen as girls soccer tops No. 2 Scottsdale Christian
Daniela Santana (14) and Haley Backus run to hug Emily Nelson after scoring the go-ahead goal from a blocked Kassidy Kitchen kick against Scottsdale Christian Academy. The girls won 3–2 in double overtime. VVN/Travis Guy
As if one thrilling victory was not enough for Mingus Union High School, before the boys won their nail-biter against Payson, the girls' soccer team played host to the No. 2 team in Division-III, the Scottsdale Christian Academy (SCA) Eagles, and their own edge-of-your-seat thriller.
"It feels awesome, I feel like we got our mojo back ... the Mingus mojo," said senior mid-fielder Emily Nelson.
Since the start of 2014 the Marauders have been a force, to say the least. Whether they were traveling to play top-ranked teams or hosting them, the girls won. The contest with the Eagles was no different. It may have taken two overtimes, but Mingus Union pulled out the win and added its biggest feather yet to the Marauders' cap.
"It feels great. I would have rather won it in regulation and be eating dinner right now, but hey, we'll take it," said head coach Buddy Rhodes. "They were a very good team, they didn't give up. We let a garbage goal in front of the goal get in on us, which kept them in the game and ran it to the tie, but that's all right."
The girls were first to strike, but the Eagles would answer back. Despite their D-III ranking, No. 10, Mingus is one of the best teams in their division and they showed it on Jan. 16 with their 3-2 win.
It began with a quick goal from Haley Backus. The senior got the pass and despite being covered was able to slip the ball past the goalie in the opening minute. Riding the momentum, the girls were able to unload more shots on SCA's freshman goalie Grace Schreyer.
"If I had to say who really, really was a game-turner today, I would say Haley Backus," Rhodes said. "She played in offensive-mid, set nice passes up, but then dropped to defensive mid when we had to pull Kassidy (Kitchen) out because she is just fighting the flu. She gutted it out and finished the game for us. It was a big game, really a test of our character and we passed with flying colors."
As the time ticked away to the break, the Eagles were able to tie the game at one.
Backus again gave her team the advantage, this time off a penalty kick. And again SCA answered with a goal of its own. As the two teams battled through the rest of the second half, both teams had their moments but the Marauders looked to be the stronger team. They were pressuring SCA's side of the field and getting off shots (many close misses like the Scottsdale Prep game).
When the bell rang to signal the end of regulation, the teams were knotted at two. The first 10 minutes began and it was more of the same from both teams. Pressure and shot attempts, but nothing was going in and as soon as one team had the upper hand, the other would grab the momentum back.
"We didn't get the ball clear. As I told you before, I always look at what we do wrong, not what we do right, but the character of this team is just incredible," Rhodes said. "We had great defense out of Kelby (Gillies) and Isis (Meyjes), and our two outsides, Melissa (Myers) and Danny (Glick), great defense. Holding-mids did a wonderful job."
The first overtime ended with both teams still at two a piece and as the final 10 minutes of the game began, it looked as though the game may end in a tie.
The Marauders would have none of that.
Battling the pesky flu that has been going around, Kitchen got the ball on SCA's side and by the far post of the goal. Kitchen launched the ball at the far side of the goal and Schreyer dove.
"It was just a beautiful shot by Kassidy Kitchen," Nelson said. "I give all the credit to her because a monkey could have scored the goal that I scored. It just parried off the goalie, but you always have to follow your shots and I just so happened to be there."
The ball was stopped by the opposing goalie but it was going so fast that it bounced off her hands, right to where Emily Nelson was waiting. Nelson kicked the ball in and finished Kitchen's shot, giving the Marauders the go-ahead goal with minutes remaining. The girls' fans, mainly family members that were braving the cold, cheered as the girls hugged each other on the field.
"I was just hoping that someone was there and would be able to finish it," Kitchen said. "... Oh my ... I was just so happy. I ... I don't know, I just ran to her and hugged her, that's all I could do," Kitchen said.
With the win, the girls improved to 7-8-1 overall, 5-3 at aia365.com. The record may not be as flashy as years past, but what does matter is that the girls have passed every challenge put in front of them since the new year. They are riding a four-game win streak with two more divisional games remaining.
The Marauders travel to Sedona Red Rock High School on Jan. 22 for their second to last D-III game with kickoff at 6 p.m. They follow that up two days later by hosting bottom dweller Valley Lutheran. Their final two regular season games are against Division-II programs Coconino (Jan. 27 at home) and Bradshaw Mountain (Jan. 29 at Bradshaw).
"I was proud of my team and proud of the character that we showed tonight because we'd get the lead and get it taken away from us but we never stopped fighting," Nelson said. "I was proud of my team and proud to be a part of it."