It’s been 15 years since Salpointe has played for a state championship and 17 since the Lancers won one. That’s a long wait for a program stocked with talent and filled with tradition. The wait is now over thanks to a 2-1 (4-3) win over Ironwood Ridge Tuesday night in a Division II semifinal match held at Tucson High.
Becky Barry was in the fourth grade when the Lancers won it all in 1999 and in sixth grade when the Lancers made their last appearance in the final. Coincidentally, that was also the first year she started playing competitive soccer.
She went on to star at Salpointe herself before becoming the captain of the University of Arizona team. Now, in her second year coaching, she has her alma mater in the state championship game once again.
But it literally came down to the last kick.
No. 1 Salpointe (23-1) scored in the 48th minute when Lauren Bollinger found Kalista Kakou for the 1-0 lead. The goal came against one of the better keepers in the state in Megan Logue.
Logue, and her Salpointe counterparts Madison Hargis and Paloma Mars, have kept some of the best scorers in the state at bay this year. The two teams are so evenly matched, Salpointe needed overtime to defeat Ironwood Ridge (18-4-2) to win the section title two weeks ago and the odds were in favor of another lengthy match again.
It took a lot of effort for Salpointe to score on Logue so one would figure Ironwood Ridge would also need something heroic to get one past Hargis and the Nighthawks got it in the 59th minute from Kelly Koppy.
Koppy missed several weeks due to an injury but she came back to help her team defeat Arcadia 1-0 in the quarterfinal round on Saturday and she booted a line drive from 40 yards out for the equalizer against Salpointe. It was almost storybook.
Sean Watkins coached Ironwood Ridge to the state final in 2011 but this team seemed to have an extra spark that some of his “best” teams seemed to lack. After missing the state tournament last year, the Nighthawks lost 11 seniors to graduation and started over.
“This year was great with a lot of wins,” Logue said. “I was confident in my abilities but we just had a bad outcome. But I do know we left everything on the field.”
Logue attempted to walk towards the team bus unnoticed with blood dripping down from both of her knees. But that was not going to happen. Her trainer and teammates took care of her just as she had taken care of them in the field. She did leave everything on the field and more.
The match was sent to overtime and then to PKs. It was a sad way to end a great season for one of the teams but that is how it’s done.
Kaylee Wallentine took the first kick for Ironwood Ridge but her attempt went wide left to avoid Hargis then Logue blocked Taylor Bigelow’s attempt to end the first round tied 0-0.
Hargis blocked Mariah Loya’s offering but Isabella Almazan found the corner to give Salpointe a 1-0 lead heading to the third round.
Koppy tied it up 1-1 but Kakou also scored to give Salpointe a 2-1 lead to the fourth round.
Maggie Freeh scored to tie it up at 2-2 but Hope Seasholes scored to give the Lancers a 3-2 lead to the final round.
Alexis Hernandez found net to tie it up 3-3 but Reilly Marks put hers in also for the 4-3 win, although she didn’t know it.
“I had no idea,” Marks said after the win. “I though mine was for the tie. I didn’t know till I saw everyone rushing towards me. I’m so proud of my team and excited to play one more game.”
Salpointe will face No. 3 Notre Dame in the D-II championship set for 11 a.m. on Saturday morning at Campo Verde High School. The game will also be shown live on Fox Sports Arizona.
Notre Dame defeated No. 7 Catalina Foothills in the other semifinal match.
In Division III action, No. 4 Palo Verde defeated No. 1 North Canyon 4-3 in overtime to earn a spot in the D-III state final against No. 7 Fountain Hills to be played at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Williams Field High School. This will be the third trip to the state final for the Titans.
Horizon defeated Salpointe in 2001. Mountain View principal Todd Garelick was the head coach of Horizon at the time. His wife, Amy Garelick is the head coach of Pusch Ridge.
Tanque Verde coach Shana Olayvar kicked field goals for the Santa Rita football team in 2001 before playing soccer in college.
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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 AZPreps365.com and on the pages of the Vail Voice and the Tanque Verde Voice. Contact Andy Morales at AMoralesMyTucson@yahoo.com