Talk about a dynamite ending. The Camp Verde boys soccer team came back from a 2-0 deficit against Verde Valley to win it 3-2.
Verde Valley struck first, just after the game began. Camp Verde's defense held them scoreless for the rest of the half, but the Cowboys were struggling to get the ball into the goal themselves.
At halftime the Cowboys huddled together, frustrated with the lack of ability to sink the ball into the net. The captains had words with the group and then the team got back out on to the field for another 40 minutes of play.
Verde Valley scored their second goal 3:45 into the second half on a practically impossible to defend goal, which was kicked from about 35 yards out.
Coach David Miller took the opportunity after Verde Valley's second goal to reset his offense a bit. He pulled his starting goalie Mike Wales out and put him in the striker position and but Zeb Dickenson in as goalie.
Miller put Wales in the striker position. With Wales and Frank Woodford up front, the Cowboys found new life and intensity on the field and things started going Camp Verde's way.
With just over 23 minutes left in the game, Austin Beeler got the ball down toward the goal and passed it to Wales who knocked it in for Camp Verde's first goal of the night. Little did anyone know, that the Cowboys were just warming up.
The teams battled back and forth. Will Allen in the middle of the field was getting the ball and pressuring Verde Valley. His intensity just fueled the Cowboys and Allen was able to get the ball going in the right direction while the team continued to play hard defense.
The Cowboys got the ball close to their goal and with about fifteen minutes left in the game, Woodford took a shot, but it bounced off of the goalie and Wales was there for the second effort and the goal, tying the game up 2-2.
The Cowboys were pumped up while Verde Valley was struggling to regain the upper hand they had had for the first 60 minutes of the game. Verde Valley took shots, but Dickenson kept them out of the goal.
Camp Verde continued to pressure on offense and with 6:21 left in the game, Austin Beeler came up with the ball, passed it over to Wales. And for the third time in the game, Wales came up with a huge goal to put the Cowboys up, 3-2.
The Cowboys held off Verde Valley's attempts at scoring a goal to tie things up and after 80 minutes of soccer, Camp Verde walked away with their heads up high and the win.
"You can't write a better script than that," said coach David Miller. "You have a team that struggles to score and then show the team that no matter what you're behind, you can come back."
And that is what they did. The Cowboys never let up. After having a slow start, some changes on the field breathed new life into the team and they were unstoppable.
"The first half, we were pretty lethargic," said Miller. "We reset the offense Š and with Will's energy and Mike's energy, they pressured everything and played good defense."
Verde Valley is a very good team and coach Miller expects them to be one of the four teams standing at the end of the season.
The new and maybe improved offense of the Cowboys will be tested again as Miller will continue with the change for the upcoming games against Grand Canyon and Ash Fork today and Saturday.
"We'll give it a shot this weekend and see if it was an anomaly or not," said coach Miller. "The boys are pretty excited about that. I think it would be remiss on my part if I didn't give it a shot."
The team is pumped up and ready to face their opponents. The win against Verde Valley definitely put some life back into the team and taught them that they can score and win.
"It's all about asset management," said coach Miller. "We look to maximize opportunities. Put someone in there that might be hot that day."
That move to switch Wales from goalie to striker was the right thing to do, because he was hot that day, racking up a hat trick in the process. Maybe with the new lineup, the team will be able to score early and use their excellent defense to keep their opponents quiet.
"As an older coach with tenure, I just assume have an early score and sit back and enjoy the game," said coach Miller. "It's the cardiac kids, they seem to like to keep it exciting."