Staff photo by Eric Lusk
LARRY BADGER (left) celebrates with Jorge Molina after the Marauders' go-ahead goal in the first half.
Games like Thursday’s against visiting Saguaro re-enforced just why the Marauders tabbed the senior with the jet black hair as one of their leaders. Morris eagerly moved into a new position following an injury to a teammate and responded by assisting on a key goal as Mingus clipped the Sabercats 3-1.
You can usually find Morris on the defensive end or battling in the midfield to send the ball up to the offensive playmakers. But on Thursday, with a hole in the line-up that needed filling, he moved up and created his own offensive highlights.
He was an easy pick for coach Duane Badger’s game MVP honor.
“Sean played a great game,” Badger said. “The nice thing about Sean is that I can put him anywhere I need him and he doesn’t complain. He just goes out and does it.”
Morris stepped into the offensive flow about midway through the first half with the score tied 1-1. Forward Coco Dongo, who netted the Marauders’ first goal, had just left with a mild concussion following a collision.
It didn’t take long for Morris to find his groove. He was around the action when Jorge Molina headed in the go-ahead goal with about 18 minutes left before intermission.
He then got an official assist 10 minutes into the second half, feeding teammate Cody Rongo perfectly through the Saguaro defense. Rongo beat the keeper on a one-on-one to extend the lead to 3-1.
Like Morris, the Marauders stepped up their level of play Thursday when compared to Tuesday’s 3-0 loss at Prescott. The offense had better flow, and the defense proved stingy after giving up a goal in the first 1:30.
Mingus keeper Ethan Johnson came up with some nice saves again, including a bullet right at him from about 20 yards away with 1:30 left in regulation.
Matt Kipena and Josh Collingwood helped control the midfield, keeping Saguaro’s top scorer in check. Larry Badger made some nice runs on offense, and Rongo found himself in scoring position several times.
Dane Mickelsen assisted Molina’s goal. Rongo also had an assist.
By game’s end, Mingus only had three subs but hung on to win its six game of the season.
“We played much better than in the Prescott game,” coach Badger said. “Prescott took us to a wall-passing clinic.”
The Marauders finish the non-conference slate 6-6-2. They now turn their attention to four all-important region games starting with Saturday afternoon’s date at Page. That will be followed by a game at Flagstaff on Jan. 23, then home contests against Coconino and Sinagua.
The top two teams from the Grand Canyon Region advance to state. The regular season champion gets an automatic bid plus either the tournament champion (if that’s a different team) or the tournament runner-up.
“We’ve been working all season to get here,” Badger said. “(Saturday) is our first game that really counts.”
Mingus should be favored against the Sand Devils, who have only beaten River Valley in early season action. The Marauders topped River 6-0 in a December tournament.
“We’re not taking this game lightly,” Badger said. “We are going in very serious.”