Marauders lock up home field edge for GCR tourney
Staff photo by Eric Lusk
LARRY BADGER (right) tries to get in front of a Payson Longhorn in a shutout on the road.
The Marauders snapped a three-game losing skid in the process and wrapped up the region campaign with a 2-3 record. Coach Duane Badger's team (9-6-1 overall) finished fourth in the six-team league and will host fifth-seeded Page on Tuesday afternoon for the right to play in Wednesday's GCR semifinals.
The GCR semis and championship games have all been moved from Sinagua High School to Mingus because of field conditions and weather concerns.
"After our poor performances over the past three games I elected not to practice Thursday, but to have a 'chalk talk' time with the team," said Mingus coach Duane Badger.
"We spoke about many things, but desire and execution were at the top of the list. I was very pleased to see the team come out hard against Payson and ultimately be victorious."
The Marauders outshot Payson 12-3 in the first half but couldn't get one into the net.
Dumas made a great play to get the Marauders on the board 15 minutes after intermission. With the ball bouncing around in front of the net, a sliding Dumas sliced through a crowd and knocked it past the keeper on the left side.
Larry Badger's goal came about 10 minutes later — a laser from about 25 yards away.
The game could have been much more lopsided had the Marauders converted on a few more of their 34 total shots. Ray Rivera and Ethan Johnson both had balls sail just over the top bar, and Johnson later had a one-on-one chance that the keeper stopped.
Payson blocked a Larry Badger free kick in front of the goal and cleared it.
Cody Rongo hit a rocket from 30 yards out that also sailed a few inches over the top. Mitch Schumacher had an open look, but the Longhorn goalie barely covered it up.
"While I was happy with the win, I told (the team) I was still concerned with the shots per goal percentage," coach Badger said. "This is something we will continue to work on for the rest of our season how ever long that may be."
The season could extend into the state playoffs if the Marauders win at least two games in this week's GCR tournament.
A win over Page — which is expected since Mingus beat them handily in the regular season — puts Badger's team into Wednesday's semifinals, where they will play top-seeded Flagstaff. If Mingus beats Flag, they will play in Thursday's GCR championship game for the right to go to state as either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed.
If Mingus loses to Flag, they can still go to state by winning the third place game on Thursday. Unlike last season, when only two teams from each region went to state, this year three will go.
Game times have not yet been announced for Wednesday's and Thursday's action. All games will be at Bright Field (Mingus' main stadium).
Flagstaff won the boys region with a 5-0 record. Sinagua and Coconino both finished 3-2, with Sinagua getting second place by virtue of its win over the Panthers. Page and Payson both finished 1-4.
Coach Badger watched much of Friday's game against Payson from the team bus after getting ejected for arguing an official's call. He still made his presence known, honking the bus horn from the parking lot after each Mingus goal and after the final whistle sounded.
Officials delved out numerous yellow cards to both teams during the contest, though it didn't appear to be more physical than any other game. Assistant coach/JV coach Cade Densmore directed the Mingus squad after Badger was ejected.
Mingus has not had a three-game losing streak since the 2001 season, Badger said. The Marauders followed up a loss to Flagstaff with a 2-0 defeat at Coconino last Saturday and 3-2 loss to Sinagua at home on Wednesday.
The Mustangs jumped on top of Mingus 2-0 with a pair of goals in the opening 11 minutes of Wednesday's clash. Marauder Brady Flummer, who normally plays keeper, scored on a header before halftime to make the margin 2-1.
But Sinagua answered a couple minutes later with a penalty kicks goal for a 3-1 advantage. Mingus dominated much of the second half, with Flummer getting a second goal.
"The ball went back and forth with Mingus keeping possession most of the time, but we were not able to get another ball into the net," coach Badger said. "Oddly enough, we outshot Sinagua 12-10 in the first period and 11-5 in the second period. But shots are not what wins the game."