Mingus girls soccer advances to final four

<b>Haley Backus</b> puts her head on a corner kick in the second half Saturday against Catalina. The header went just wide. VVN/Sean Morris

<b>Haley Backus</b> puts her head on a corner kick in the second half Saturday against Catalina. The header went just wide. VVN/Sean Morris

COTTONWOOD - The Mingus girls soccer team beat the Catalina Trojans, 3-0, Saturday afternoon on Bright Field in a Division III state tournament second round game.

Mingus junior Haley Backus scored one goal and senior Delaney Scanlan scored two. The Marauders were up two at halftime, and Catalina came out with more intensity in the second half.

The Trojans created opportunities, but Mingus keeper Shelby Hughes made some nice plays to keep them scoreless. In a lot of games this season, Hughes didn't see much action -- the Mingus support style defense is very good and they limit shots on goal, so it's easy to forget how well Shelby Hughes can play.

In a critical point in the game Saturday, Hughes had to layout completely to her left to stop a Trojan attempt.

"That was a great save by Shelby," said Mingus head coach Buddy Rhodes. "We were up 2-0, and if that shot went in it would have shifted the momentum of the game -- they would've had the adrenaline and we would have been on our heels. It was just a very timely save, on a hard shot to save."

Instead of shifting momentum, the save gave the Marauders an emotional boost. Shortly after, Scanlan sent a rocket ball from about 30-yards out to the back of the Trojan net. The shot came off her foot with such power it lodged between the framework and the net.

Since Scanlan has been put in an attacking position, the team has a different attitude. Freshman striker Martina Bueno and Scanlan are the most aggressive players on the team. They're frustrating opposing defenses and getting into their heads.

"I've never seen Delaney play with so much intensity. She just goes for 80 minutes nonstop. She is relentless," said senior captain Nataly Escamilla.

"She's the most aggressive player on our team, so she'll get to any ball that you give her," said Backus.

Scanlan also has track speed and was part of a state-champion track team. Will this soccer team take a state title? They're only two wins away.

One thing is certain, the team is playing the right way with outstanding midfielders, aggressive attackers, strong defenders, and an athletic keeper. They have freshmen playing heavy minutes, but they've played great all season, and there's no reason they can't win.

Their next game is against Cactus Tuesday, 5 p.m. at Arcadia HS.

NOTE: At one point in the game a Catalina supporter shouted, "They're fighting amongst themselves, take advantage!" I just want to say the Mingus team was never fighting with each other. When players with a championship mentality communicate, sometimes it sounds like they're quarreling. They're not. They're simply an intense team that would do anything for each other, especially raise their voice when it's needed.

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