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Sun, Dec. 15

Marauders take second in own tournament

If January’s script follows December’s, Mingus Union’s girls soccer state playoff drought could be history.

The Marauders, which have never advanced to the 4A state tournament, could even write a tale of their first-ever Grand Canyon Region championship.

Considered a second-tier team in year’s past, coach Steve Ferreira’s crew has certainly gained the attention of GCR front-runners after a successful first month of the 2000-01 campaign.

Mingus whipped defending region champion Coconino 4-1 on Saturday and nearly knocked off Sinagua, arguably the best team in Flagstaff this season, in Wednesday night’s championship game of the Marauders’ three-day tournament.

The Mustangs rattled in a corner kick with two minutes left to sneak away with a 3-2 victory. The Marauders led 1-0 for much of the first half thanks to an early goal from Jill Ferreira and tied it 2-2 with five minutes remaining on Ashley Libro’s blast from 30 yards out.

Thanks to Mingus, the GCR plot definitely thickens.

"We feel real good," coach Ferreira said after the tournament. "There are still a few adjustments we have to make. But I think we’ll have a good shot to go (to the state tournament) this year for sure."

The Marauders (5-3) have been on a sharp improvement curve since the beginning of the 2000-01 campaign, a 5-0 loss to this same Sinagua team in the first round of the Kingman Invitational. Mingus Union’s only other defeat came to Bradshaw Mountain, 3-2 in the final game at Kingman.

This week they cracked into the state’s top 10 rankings for 4A schools for the first time. Mingus jumped to number eight with its win over Coco — and dropped the Panthers from third to ninth. Sinagua is not yet ranked but likely will move into the top 10 after its wins over Coconino (3-2) and Mingus in this week’s tourney.

"That means a lot to us," coach Ferreira said of the number eight ranking. "Mingus is getting there."

Coach Ferreira credits new formations and an improving defense as keys to his squad’s early success.

Brianna Collingwood (back from an injury), Salem Kamps, goalkeeper Sara Riley, Harmony Chaikin and Kate Ferreira have proven formidable defenders and midfielders. Kate Ferreira held Agua Fria’s top scorer, Shawna Sparks, in check for most of Tuesday’s clash, a 4-2 Mingus win in the tournament’s second round.

Elaine Rothrock, Sarah Heath, Amanda French and Lisa Short all scored against Agua Fria and help pace the offense along with Missy Pomeroy and Jill Ferreira.

Jill Ferreira may be the most dangerous front-line player and scored twice this week on well-placed corner kicks. The junior’s hook-shot score two minutes into the Sinagua contest stunned the Mustangs.

Ironically, though, Sinagua won the contest on a similar play. Their game-winning goal also came on a corner, which most thought was sailing over the goal. Instead it bounced off the back post and went in. A mad rush by Mingus to net the equalizer produced shots off the post and to the keeper but no goals, coach Ferreira said.

Since both Mingus-Sinagua games thus far have been in tournaments, neither will count in the region standings. The Marauders and Mustangs will play twice for keeps in January, on the ninth at Mingus and the 25th in Flagstaff.

The rematch with Coconino will be Jan. 20 on the Marauders’ home field. Mingus also has two games with Flagstaff and one more against Page before the GCR tournament.

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