By Doug Braly
Local Sports Advocate
This past Saturday night the Mingus Girls Soccer team took a big step to grow their tradition. The second annual alumni game was played with the alumni, this time, taking the win 3-2. The five goals and stingy defense highlighted the pride each of the teams took in their respective eras. Cold weather and the threat of rain did not keep the spirited competition from heating up.
The alumni team was out to avenge last years 1-0 loss. In the opening minutes the alumni began with a serious attack beginning with a hard shot from Torey Braly culminating in Cassie Bailey charging for the rebounded ball and netting the night's first goal. Bailey, now a Freshman Volleyball coach at Mingus netted two goals for the night.
Among the storylines were three sets of sisters, Braly, Guererro and Makuch, playing either with or against each other. Leading the night with two goals for the varsity, Gabby Guerro often found herself tightly defended by her defiant big sister Anna. She joined three of Mingus great backline defenders Riley Backus, Deserata Braly and Jessie Zaski, all four members of the 2010 State Championship team. Des Braly has been playing NAU Club soccer for three years.
Mingus alumni started the game without a true goalie. Tessa Fanning was tied up at college in New Mexico with a softball scholarship and Courtney Hageman is off in Florida helping Paradise Valley Community College vie for a National Soccer Championship. The Mingus goalkeeping duties were taken on by Ashley Roth who is currently a pre med student at ASU. Current Mingus goalkeeper Shelby Hughes also helped the alumni in goal in the second half.
An engaging duel between two of the best midfielders, current and past, to ever play at Mingus played out throughout the evening. Natali Escamilla and Drea Duke, dueled each other with quick footwork, dribbling and moves that wowed the approving crowd. Drea Duke is currently raising funds to travel to Europe to play a series of matches with a club team affiliated with New Mexico Highlands University.
Many shots on goal were taken throughout the night by both teams eager to score. The partisan crowd roared with excitement as at least five hard shots bounced off the goal crossbar or upright. With the score tied 2-2 late in the game, current NAU freshman soccer player Torey Braly turned and drilled a long 30 yard shot over the varsity keepers outstretched arms to give the alumni the comeback win.
The alumni team was coached by former Mingus soccer standout Phil Van Gorp with sister Karen playing midfield for the alumni.
Coach Van Gorp rallied his team to play for the win. Quality play was also exhibited by two Mingus old timers Jamie Dingemans who still plays women's league soccer and Lisa Rauch who is currently the Mingus girls JV cross country coach.
Coach Buddy Rhodes said the game was a perfect start to the upcoming season. "I was especially pleased to see some of the older alumni girls giving advice to the younger girls", said Coach Rhodes. "I'm very excited about the play of our incoming freshman" he continued. Among the girls he noted were Martina Bueno, Brenna McCallum and Kylie Hudson, all veterans of Coach Lee Canning's AYSO Tournament team. All of the Mingus players and coaches wanted to give thanks to Mike Flummer the "Official Alumni game referee" and to John Behlow and Dennis Chambers for being there and getting the field and facilities ready for play.
The fiercely played game ended with a loud Mingus cheer and lots of hugs. Time will tell if this game will be a springboard for the team to return to a state title game.