GILBERT - Busses of Mingus supporters cheered for the Marauders at Campo Verde HS for the Division III championship game last Friday, but the home team edged out the Red and Gray, 1-0.
The Coyotes goal came in the first half off a free kick in Mingus' defensive third. A Mingus defender tried to clear the ball and it bounced off another Mingus defender's arm and out of bounds. It was obviously unintentional, but the referee called it a hand ball. The Coyotes capitalized.
Campo Verde won possession for most of the game, but they manufactured very few scoring opportunities. The problem for the Marauders: they couldn't produce shots either. It was a defensive game for both teams. The irony of the biggest crowd watching the game with the least shots on goal all season was not lost on this reporter.
"The Campo Verde team is very good, they've got a very nice coach, they're well coached, and my hat goes off to them," said Mingus head coach Buddy Rhodes. "I thought the atmosphere was neat. I thought it was really great for our administration and our school to support us the way they did, bussing fans down for this game. Athletics is very important for the development of all kids, and their support is just incredible. Mr. Foist and Mrs. Addis did a good thing allowing this to happen. Very well done."
Over the last five years, Mingus girls soccer lost a championship game in 2009, won a championship game in 2010, lost in the final four in 2011, made it to the round of eight in 2012, and lost in the championship game in 2013. Girls fortunate enough to play soccer for Mingus know what it means to contribute to a winning tradition. They're also very skilled.
"All of our seniors have opportunities to play at the next level, but some are choosing to take academic scholarships instead, and that makes me just as proud, if not more. These seniors led us through this year. We didn't anticipate getting to the championship game, but it was senior leadership that got us here. Overall we are 14-3 with 11 shutouts. Campo Verde is the only Division III team that beat us this year. We're happy with that," said Rhodes.
It will be very difficult to replace the seniors on the team, they're very good and they brought intensity, but the thing about Mingus girls soccer the last few years is, they just reload with great talent relishing an opportunity to play in meaningful games on Bright Field.
"The future for this team is very bright," said Mingus assistant coach Travis Mabery. "The amount of young girls that are here, the ones that are coming up, I think the girls will be back in the championship game sometime again. We wondered how the young girls would respond coming through the state playoffs and they did fine. It's sad to see the seniors go, they've been great for the program and they were the link to the last state championship team, but we'll start over and the younger girls will have an opportunity to make it back."