PRESCOTT — A proud program that’s endured more than its fair share of disappointment in recent years, Prescott’s boys soccer team turned it all around in 2018-19 under coach Phil Reid.
Not only did the Badgers capture their first Grand Canyon region title for the first time in a decade this season, they are playing host to a state tournament match as a No. 6 seed.
Prescott (10-1-1 record in power-point matches), which last won a state playoff game in 2011, meets No. 11 seed Walden Grove in the first round of the 16-team, single-elimination state bracket at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at Bill Shepard Field. The teams have never met on the pitch.
“We’re going to stick with what works best for us, focus on what we do well and execute [Saturday],” Reid said. “It’s good [to be home for the postseason]. All of our hard work paid off to put ourselves in this position.”
Since Jan. 11, the Badgers have compiled a 6-1-1 record. Prescott’s lone loss in that stretch came at home to Grand Canyon region foe Mohave, 4-2, in its regular-season finale Feb. 1.
On Feb. 7, Walden Grove eliminated Mohave, 3-2, in the state play-in round at home. The Red Wolves of Sahuarita are 7-4-1 in power-point matches, which includes their play-in victory over the Thunderbirds.
“We’re not taking them lightly,” Reid said. “It’s win or go home. On any given day, anybody can win.”
Prescott’s led by its defense, which has a tremendous back line in defenders Trevor Cargill, Carlos Rivera, Bryce Costes and Nathaniel Koehler.
Cargill was recently named Grand Canyon region player of the year and defensive player of the year. Rivera and Koehler are first- and second-team all-region selections, respectively.
Reid said fans should keep an eye on his midfield, led by senior Fernando Rodriguez, who’s a first team all-region pick, as well as Bryant Chivara, Brayden Nelson and Ryan Doyle, who’s a second team all-region honoree.
“We want to win,” Reid added. “It’s been a long time since we’ve won in the state playoffs, and we hope to go deeper.”
No. 15 seed Bradshaw Mountain (7-5-1 record in power-point matches), which upset No. 12 Arcadia, 4-3, in the state play-in round Feb. 7 in Phoenix, travels to No. 2 Tempe for a difficult first-round match at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9.
Tempe (11-0-1), the Skyline region champion, has won eight of its last nine matches. The Buffaloes tied defending 4A state runner-up Cortez, 3-3, Jan. 17 at home.
“We are expecting a tough battle,” Bears interim coach Dustin Fechner said. “Tempe is very organized, and we have to find a way to break them down. The boys are excited to compete to the best of their abilities.”
If Prescott beats Walden Grove, the Badgers would battle the winner of the first-round match pitting No. 14 Dysart vs. No. 3 Cortez (2 p.m. Saturday in Phoenix) in the quarterfinals at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12.
If Bradshaw Mountain upsets Tempe, the Bears would visit the victor of Saturday’s first-round game pitting No. 10 Thunderbird vs. No. 7 Catalina Foothills in the quarterfinals at 6 p.m. Feb. 12.
Doug Cook is a reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at email@example.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.