Originally Published: October 19, 2017 6:03 a.m.
The defending 2A state champion and current No. 3-ranked Chino Valley girls’ soccer team struggled against No. 1 Northland Preparatory of Flagstaff in their first two meetings this season. On Wednesday, the question was whether the Cougars could find a way to upset the Spartans in their third and final showdown of the regular campaign.
Chino Valley could neither avenge a 2-1 loss in region play Sept. 12 nor a 6-1 setback at the Show Low Classic Sept. 16, falling 3-0 to Northland Prep at Sinagua Middle School in Flagstaff.
With the shutout, the Spartans clinched the 2A Central region title, snapping Chino Valley’s nine-match winning streak in the process.
Chino Valley dipped to 9-4-1 overall, 3-2 in region and 7-2-1 in power-point games, which count toward the state rankings. Northland Prep remained undefeated at 18-0-0, 5-0 and 10-0-0.
In Wednesday’s match, Cougars coach Allen Foster said his team “gave up an early goal on a poorly cleared ball from our defense” but “played a very even game until we gave up our second goal with about 10 minutes left in the game.”
“We brought Kacey Matthews out of the goal to try and generate some offense, and we gave up a late [third] goal when trying to push for a goal,” Foster said.
Only the top four teams in 2A qualify for the state tournament Oct. 27 and 28 at Campo Verde High School in Gilbert. Entering Wednesday, the Top 4, in order, were No. 1 Northland Prep., No. 2 Round Valley (14-2-2, 9-0-0, 10-0-1), No. 3 Chino Valley and No. 4 Show Low (9-9-1, 6-2-1, 7-3-1).
At state, No. 1 battles No. 4 and No. 2 faces No. 3 in the semifinals at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively, on Oct. 27. The state championship match is slated for 3 p.m. on Oct. 28.
Chino Valley will conclude the 2017 regular season at 6 p.m. today, Oct. 19, when the Cougars play host to region rival Camp Verde at the high school’s football field.
Northland Prep. plays host to Payson at 3:45 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, at Sinagua Middle School in Flagstaff.