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12:25 PM Tue, Nov. 20th

Bears host Palo Verde Magnet Thursday in conference play-in match

Prep Girls Soccer

Kickoff at 4 p.m. in Prescott Valley for state bid

The Bradshaw Mountain girls’ soccer team will play host to Palo Verde Magnet in a 4A conference play-in match at 4 p.m. today at Bob Pavlich Field in Prescott Valley.

With a win, the Bears would qualify for the 16-team state playoff bracket.

The Bears earned the No. 11 seed out of the 24 teams that the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) selected for the postseason. Only the Top 8-ranked squads automatically qualified for state, including No. 6 Prescott (11-1 overall record in power-point matches).

Each of the Top 8 teams is guaranteed a home match in the first round. The other 16 clubs are competing in the play-in round in hopes of reaching the first round.

If Bradshaw Mountain beats No. 22 Palo Verde Magnet, the Bears would be reseeded into the state playoff bracket with each of the Top 8 seeds and the seven other winners from the play-in round.

The Grand Canyon region Bears, who finished the regular season with a 7-4-1 overall record and won four of their last six matches, have not reached the state tournament since the 2001-02 season. Palo Verde Magnet of the Gila region, which is riding a three-game winning streak, finished with a 6-6 mark this winter. The Bears and Titans didn’t play in the regular season.

“They’ve been really good in the past,” Bradshaw Mountain coach John Sterling said of Palo Verde Magnet. “They don’t look as strong this year. I always like to look at strength of schedule, and they don’t have the schedule we have. They’ve gotten beat by a few teams that are questionable, so we’ll just see what happens.”

On Friday, the AIA will announce the pairings for the first round of the state tournament, which kicks off at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 30, at the highest-seeded teams. The state quarterfinal round follows, with four matches being played at each of the highest remaining seeds at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3.

The state semifinals follow at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6, at Williams Field High School in Gilbert. The state championship match is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, also at Williams Field.

Sterling said he’s “not overly concerned about” the play-in match, but he had “some concerns” after the Bears’ 4-0 loss at Prescott on Tuesday.

“We really need to step up our game, because we just didn’t show up and didn’t perform [versus Prescott],” he added. “So, we’ve got to get refocused and try to get the girls back on track and on task.”

BOYS

Neither Prescott nor Bradshaw Mountain’s boys’ soccer teams qualified for the state tournament.

The Badgers (7-5) entered Tuesday ranked No. 25. Despite their 3-2 victory over then-No. 20 Bradshaw Mountain at Bill Shepard Field, the Badgers stayed at No. 25 in Wednesday’s final rankings. The Bears (6-6) tumbled to No. 27 after losing to Prescott.

Only the Top 8-ranked teams automatically qualify for the 4A state tournament bracket. The Nos. 9 through 24th-ranked teams were paired and will compete in a state play-in round today to determine the final eight teams in the bracket.

Doug Cook is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @dougout_dc. Email him at dcook@prescottaz.com or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2039.