As a school, the Pueblo Warriors have officially won a total of 10 state team championships since its doors opened in 1956 and the Warriors have also finished runner-up seven more times. That comes out to 17 trips in 60 years. 17.
Well, the boy’s soccer team just added to that total Wednesday night with a 3-0 win over Glendale Prep in a Division IV semifinal held at Tucson High.
There are various factors that can account for only 18 championship appearances including socio-economic and, of course, the lack of intense youth club experiences. Still, the school motto is ¡Sí Se Puede! or “Yes, we can!”
It’s a motto the boy’s soccer team has taken to heart.
The team started this year out just like any other year. A loss to Amphitheater was followed by a loss to Nogales. Business as usual.
Boys Basketball (1977, 1978)
Cross Country (1957, 1958)
Track (1958, 1977)
Wrestling (1992, 2008)
Cross Country (1956, 1967)
Boys Basketball (1983)
The Warriors went on to win 12 of their next 14 games to finish the regular season with a 12-4 record, a section championship and No. 2 seed in the Division IV state playoffs. The wins came by a staggering 64 goals to 7 margin. That’s over five goals a game.
Pueblo beat No. 15 Lee Williams 5-0 in the first round and No. 7 YET NFL 7-2 in the quarterfinal round. That win set up a semifinal match against No. 6 Glendale Prep (16-5-1) on Wednesday night.
Glendale Prep is also a fascinating story. The Griffins have only been playing varsity matches for three years. Three years.
“We came close to making the playoffs last year but to make it to the semifinals in only three years shows what kind of potential we have,” said head coach David Rickey.
“We also had our chances tonight,” he added. “Had we scored early I feel we could have held them off but it didn’t go our way. We aren’t used to a big field and a very fast turf. Pueblo tired us out.”
Pueblo freshman Helder Navarro scored in the 12th minute (Rafael Torres) and again in the 22nd off of a header. Torres put the game away in the 72nd minute.
Navarro called the win a win for his family. He didn’t mean his own family, he meant his Warrior family. It was a sentiment echoed by his goalie Ledwin Lopez.
“People started to tell us we could be the first soccer team from our school to play for a championship,” Lopez said. “That got us all practicing and playing harder and we are all here together.”
Pueblo will play No. 5 Buckeye on Saturday for the D-IV state championship. The match will take place at 1:30 p.m. at Williams Field High School. The match will also be streamed live on the NFHS Network.
Finally, when asked about his header, Navarro simply said, “I hit it where the goalie wasn’t.”
Yes, it is that easy.
¡Sí Se Puede!
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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