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Mon, Oct. 21

Marauder booters win four games at Mohave

Mingus Union’s play in last weekend’s Mohave Invitational boys soccer tournament should serve as a confidence booster heading into 2002.

The Marauders won four of six games, finished third overall and earned wins against three Grand Canyon Region rivals. The team’s only losses came to event champion Bradshaw Mountain. Had the tournament’s brackets been set up a little differently, Mingus would have been in the title game rather than a consolation contest.

"I was disappointed with the structure of the tournament, but I am pleased with the outcome and advancements we have made as a team," said Marauders coach Duane Badger. "This was a great opportunity for the team to meld together. They spent three nights in a motel room and shared nearly every meal. They played six games in three days, which allowed us to present different offensive and defensive looks."

Mingus won two of three games during the pool rounds Thursday and Friday, beating Flagstaff and Coconino 1-0 and falling to Bradshaw 2-0.

Josh Collingwood scored the only goal in the Flag contest. Dane Mickelsen provided the assist in the opening half. Back-up goalie Raymond Rivera, stepping in for a sick Robbie Maine, stopped 14 of 16 shots against Bradshaw. Jordan Webb knocked in the only goal in the Coconino contest.

Tournament play began Friday night, and the Marauders drew Page in their first contest. The GCR team, which just began soccer last season, was no match for Mingus. Sean Morris scored in the first half, while Mickelsen and Collingwood netted shots in the second half as the Marauders coasted to a 3-1 victory.

Layne Johnson assisted Morris’ goal, while Morris provided an assist for Mickelsen. Cody Rongo assisted on Collingwood’s goal.

"The Marauders only allowed Page to get off four shots during the entire 80 minutes," Badger said.

Here is where the bracket controversy set in. The Marauders’ win over Page set them up to face Bradshaw again in tournament play. Flagstaff, meanwhile, moved on to play a weaker Mohave squad. Since Mingus beat Flag in the pool round, Badger believes his squad should have had the easier route to reach the title game.

"I spoke with other coaches who echoed my feelings that Mingus should have been playing for the championship, but we were not destined to be there this year," Badger said.

Wintry weather and a dirt-and-gravel field greeted the Marauders as they set out in their rematch with Bradshaw. "The wind was so intense that much of the time the ball was sailing beyond the end of the field and out of bounds," Badger said.

Bradshaw scored first on a penalty kick and then added two more nets before halftime for a 3-0 advantage. Mingus got the wind after halftime, and Collingwood netted a shot on an assist from Webb to pull the Marauders within two. Unfortunately, the game ended before Mingus could get another goal.

Because of injuries and illness, the Marauders had no subs for its consolation final against Mohave. Mingus fell behind 1-0 in the first half and had to dig deep to rally in the second half.

"Using everything I could devise I did my best to motivate the team during halftime intermission," Badger said. "I moved a few players around trying to give the team a different look and attacking formation.

"We were now facing the wind, and the shot toll began to mount in favor of Mohave."

Mohave took 14 shots against Maine, but the Marauder defense held its ground. Rongo finally broke through the other way and fired a shot toward the Mohave goal from about 25 yards away – nothing but net.

"Cody’s goal gave energy to the team’s tired legs, and they fought to score again," Badger said.

The game ended 1-1 after regulation and advanced to two 10-minute overtimes. Near the end of the second extra period, Webb was tripped on an offensive attack. He was given a penalty kick with 1:30 remaining and punched it in for the 2-1 Mingus win.

"It was a great victory, but still bittersweet knowing that we had beaten the team that was playing in the championship game," Badger said.

Mingus came out of the tournament with a 4-7 overall record. The Marauders have one more non-region game, against Saguaro in early January, before the GCR games that count begin. Mingus players can’t wait.

"The wins over the three region rivals have given the team renewed confidence in themselves, particularly after getting off to a rough start at the beginning of the season," Badger said.

Sports Editor Eric Lusk can be contacted a elusk@verdevalleynews.com.

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