CAMP VERDE — Top ranked Chino Valley boys’ soccer completed a perfect regular season with another rout, this time at No. 3 Camp Verde.
After trailing at the half, the Cougars (20-0, 6-0 Central) scored seven unanswered goals to win the de facto 2A Central championship match 7-1 on Thursday night.
“It was a really tough game, we knew it was going to be really hard, it’s their senior night, they’re a good team, well coached, we knew we were going to have a battle,” Chino Valley head coach Todd Carey said.
Camp Verde’s (15-3-3, 6-1 Central) only losses before Thursday night were to the Cougars both by 2-1 score lines.
“It’s nice, this is the last game, this was for the section championship, and we were really nervous,” Chino Valley senior Elijah Desmond said. “Camp Verde’s a fantastic team and we went and we played really good.”
In the 37th minute, Camp Verde senior goalkeeper Preston Maynard slide tackled Chino Valley freshman Angel Sanchez just outside the penalty box. The foul led to a red card for Maynard, who was second team All-State last year.
However, with 41 seconds left in the first half, Camp Verde senior Wesley Loveall scored the game’s first goal.
“We don’t give up many goals during the season,” Carey said. “We’re 20 games in and that’s only the sixth goal we’ve given up, so walking off at halftime, maybe they were a little bit down but they did a good job of building themselves up at halftime and regrouping, so I’m actually happy that it happened right before half because we could use halftime to kinda regroup and get back into it.”
Camp Verde head coach David Miller said losing Maynard was almost like going down two men.
“We had the momentum and the emotion, that was awesome and then reality set in in the second half,” Miller said.
Less than three minutes into the second half, Desmond scored the equalizer. Then a couple minutes later, Chino Valley senior Matthew Rios-Jakeway scored to give the Cougars the lead.
Desmond ended up with a hat trick, as did Rios-Jakeway.
“It’s nice (laughs), it’s nice, we just work hard and it just felt really nice to put in three goals,” Desmond said.
Carey said winning the region is a big deal because three of the top four teams in the state are in the Central.
“It feels good and it’s tough,” Carey said. “I thought our region is extremely tough this year I’ve been saying it all year, I think Camp Verde’s a top three team in the state and I think Phoenix Country Day is too and obviously Blue Ridge is up there.”
The four-time defending state champion Cougars are expected to host a playoff match Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the first round of the eight-team tournament.
Camp Verde is also expected to make the playoffs. The top four seeds host matches Wednesday.
James Kelley is a sports writer for the Verde Independent. Follow him on Twitter at @JamesKelley520, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.