Originally Published: December 8, 2003 6:10 p.m.
PRESCOTT — Bradshaw Mountain goalkeeper Blake Hendrix doesn't really stand out much in a crowd at a fairly average height of 5-foot-9.
But on Saturday afternoon in the championship match of the Alliance Soccer Invitational, Hendrix reached new heights. And the senior Bear must be glad he's not a fraction of an inch shorter.
With just six minutes left in the match and the Bears clinging to a one-goal lead, Hendrix used every bit of that 5-9 frame to go high in front of the net. The save denied what would have been a game-tying goal by Prescott's Adam Seigert.
"That was the save of the tournament as far as I'm concerned," Bears Coach Hugh Bell said of the save, which preserved a 2-1 victory for Bradshaw Mountain in the tourney finale at ERAU. "He timed it perfectly."
Prescott Coach Shean Hilton gave Bell all the credit for putting Hendrix in at keeper. Hendrix also plays forward.
"That was a great save … it was the right decision to put him in at goal," Hilton said. "The gameplan, I give Hugh Bell and the Bradshaw boys full credit."
The Bears jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening minutes of the contest. Before folks could even settle in their fold-up chairs, Bradshaw Mountain had scored when junior Joel Montgomery sent a nifty pass to senior Chris Parrish in front of the net. The Badger defense never had a chance on the well-executed play.
Moments later, sophomore Wesley Tornquist scored on a header pass from senior Josh Lewis seconds after a throw-in. Just like that, the Bears held a 2-0 advantage.
"It's tough to recover from 2-0, especially in a rival game," Hilton said of the early deficit. "Once we settled in, they played very well. We had some opportunities and didn't cash in on them."
The rest of the first half and the first 10 minutes of the second half featured back-and-forth soccer. Both teams had chances to do something offensively, but neither defense would budge as Bradshaw remains unbeaten at 4-0 and Prescott drops to 3-1.
"When you can jump out to that big of a lead … when it's 2-0, that's a long ways to come back," Bell said. "These kids battled. After the second goal, it was a pretty even game."
Late in the half, Prescott's Richie Frost seemed to have something going as he brought the ball down deep in the right corner of the zone. But as was the theme of the day, Bradshaw's defense recovered and denied the Badgers.
"In the second half, it was a different story," Hilton said. "We stepped up the pressure and had them on their heels a little bit. I know we had the run of play in the second half."
In the 53rd minute of the match, Badgers midfielder Brian Mortenson went down on a Bradshaw foul in the box. On the ensuing penalty shot, teammate Andrew Shroads went for the upper-right area of the net. The Bears dodged a bullet when the ball bounced off the upper bar.
"They started to pick it up" in the last 20 minutes, Bell said. "Obviously, they needed to score. The penalty kick would have been a huge goal."
With about 11 minutes remaining in the match, Prescott finally got on the scoreboard when junior Bobby Kuebler found the net in traffic on an assist from Mortenson. That set up a frenzied final stretch as the Badgers pushed for the tie.
"Come on boys, hold on," Bell yelled out to his team from the sidelines.
Prescott had some chances in the last seven minutes but were denied on each count, including on a corner kick and the great save by Hendrix.
The match was intense throughout. Three yellow cards were issued in the contest, two to Prescott players and one to a Bradshaw Mountain player.
Both coaches were complimentary of the opposing team. Hilton lauded the abilities of Hendrix and Lewis while Bell said Prescott's Shroads and Ben Johnson were standouts.
In other final day results, Flagstaff won the third-place game with a 4-0 victory over Cottonwood Mingus. Sinagua downed Greenway 4-1 for fifth place and Pinnacle slipped past Coronado 4-3 in the seventh-place match.
Prescott hits the road Monday for a 6:30 p.m. match at Thunderbird. Bradshaw Mountain will play at the Moon Valley Tournament this week.