Ironwood Ridge & Sunnyside win The Grove Soccer Invite


Ironwood Ridge celebrates (Andy Morales/

Ironwood Ridge celebrates (Andy Morales/

The Grove Soccer Invitational

Dec. 28-Jan. 2: Walden Grove


Ironwood Ridge held on for a 1-0 win over Walden Grove in the championship match of The Grove Invitational Saturday night in a preview of what is sure to be another rivalry with the new conference placements on the horizon.


Walden Grove and Ironwood Ridge went in different directions last year. The Red Wolves won the Division III state championship while the Nighthawks missed out on the Division II playoffs only a year after taking eventual state champion Catalina Foothills to overtime in the quarterfinal round the year before.

Walden Grove was in its infancy as far as being a program is concerned. The Red Wolves dominated in only their third year of varsity competition with only one senior on their roster. By contrast, the Nighthawks had 12 seniors on a program rich with tradition and NCAA D-I prospects.

“To be honest, I didn’t think we would do well this year,” said senior keeper Megan Logue. “We had a lot of seniors last year but it looks like we are playing more like a team now. We are playing for each other.”

Logue was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament after stopping the vaunted Walden Grove (12-3) scoring machine. She withstood six shots with several coming from point-blank range to preserve the victory.

Meanwhile, senior forward Alexis Hernandez scored in the 5th minute from a corner kick and that was all Ironwood Ridge (11-1-1) would need.

“We want to continue the legacy of our school,” Hernandez said. ‘That has been our motivation.”

Ironwood Ridge junior captain Mariah Loya agreed with her teammate’s assessment of the year and hopes there will be more to come. “Maybe we were a little nervous coming in but I don’t see that now,” Loya added. “We are a team.”

Walden Grove defeated Tucson 3-1 in semifinal play and Ironwood Ridge beat Sahuaro 1-0 to set up the championship match.

Walden Grove will move into D-II next year to join other soccer powers such as Catalina Foothills, Sahuaro, Tucson, Salpointe and Ironwood Ridge to name few. But, the Red Wolves will be concentrating on fighting for another state championship this winter before the move.

The Red Wolves are 3-0 in their division with an important match against Palo Verde (4-0) coming soon.

The first MaxPreps/AIA rankings will be released this Thursday. As usual, matches won or lost in invitational play are not figured into the rankings equation so teams have to quickly refocus on divisional and sectional play. Ironwood Ridge will host Catalina Foothills on Wednesday and Walden Grove will host Nogales on Friday.


Monday, Dec. 28
Sahuaro 3, Catalina Foothills 2
Rincon 1, Cienega 0
Ironwood Ridge, Tucson 1 pm
Salpointe 4, Sahuarita 1
Nogales 1, Rio Rico 0
Ironwood Ridge 3, Tucson 1

Tuesday, Dec. 29
Walden Grove 8, Safford 0
Tucson High 4, Rio Rico 1
Salpointe 1, Catalina Foothills 0
Cienega 3, Safford 0
Ironwood Ridge 1, Nogales 0
Sahuaro 2, Sahuarita 1
Walden Grove 7, Rincon 1

Wednesday, Dec. 30
Sahuaro 1, Salpointe 0
Catalina Foothills 7, Sahuarita 1
Ironwood Ridge 10, Rio Rico 0
Walden Grove Cienega 1 pm
Rincon 3, Safford 1
Tucson 3, Nogales 0

Semifinals: Saturday, Jan. 2
Walden Grove 3, Tucson 1
Ironwood Ridge 1, Sahuaro 0

Championship Game: Saturday, Jan. 2
Ironwood Ridge 1, Walden Grove 0


Monday, Dec. 28
Vista Grande 3, Pusch Ridge 1
Sahuaro 3, Sahuarita 1
Catalina Foothills 3, Cienega 0
Sunnyside 5, Rio Rico 0
Rincon 4, Nogales 2

Tuesday, Dec. 29
Rincon 5, Sahuarita 0
Catalina Foothills 0, Rio Rico 0
Walden Grove 1, Safford 1
Vista Grande 1, Safford 0
Sunnyside 3, Cienega 1
Nogales 3, Sahuarita 1
Walden Grove 3, Pusch Ridge 1

Wednesday, Dec. 30
Rio Rico 2, Cienega 1
Rincon 6, Sahuarita 1
Sunnyside 4, Catalina Foothills 0
Pusch Ridge 3, Safford 1
Nogales 3, Sahuaro 0
Vista Grande 3, Walden Grove 1

Semifinals: Saturday, Jan. 2
Nogales 1, Vista Grande 0
Sunnyside 2, Rincon 0

Championship Game: Saturday, Jan. 2
Sunnyside 2, Nogales 0

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Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here, on and on the pages of the Vail Voice and the Tanque Verde Voice. Contact Andy Morales at


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