Badgers aim to replicate last season’s state finals appearance
Prep Boys Soccer - Season preview
PRESCOTT — Since head coach Philip Reid’s arrival in 2017, it’s been nothing but good news for Prescott boys soccer.
In just Reid’s second year at the helm, the Badgers made a state finals appearance, but will third time be the charm this time around?
The Badgers came very close to a state championship last season, but ultimately fell to Salpointe Catholic 2-1 in that fateful 4A Conference final. While Prescott seems to be on the up and up, the team lost a big chunk of its core group to gradation last year; 15 seniors to be exact.
Prescott will now be without the services of starters Trevor Cargill and Ryan Doyle — who both play down the road now for Embry-Riddle — Carlos Rivera and Fernando Rodriguez. However, what Reid said he lost in size and strength, the Badgers will make up for it with pure technique.
“The team is looking OK. It feels like a new group of guys because we lost so many players. But we retained 10 players from last season,” Reid said. “The big thing is integrating the new players with the players that played last season, getting the right style of play that fits the personnel we have now … But technically, we have a good group of guys.”
Returning players include junior midfielder Brayden Nelson, the most seasoned player on the team, and Jack Bruce, a hefty defender that will fortify the back four. Nelson and Bruce will be the team captains as their composure will be complemented by the talents of Frankie Castro, Diego Sanchez and Aldo Munoz, who’ve shown promise over the past couple weeks.
Reid looks to implement a methodical playstyle and one that has the team fully engaged for the full 90 minutes, much like a blend between Manchester City and Chelsea. With all the new faces on the team, Nelson said it’s going to take some time to execute such a style but he is confident they'll adjust eventually.
“We definitely have a lot of work in terms of getting a lot of new players into the system and kind of knowing what to do,” Nelson said. “[Reid] is trying to play a high-press, high-energy, swarm type of soccer where you just go and get it. Very fast, tiki-taka, one-, two-touch passes and he doesn’t settle for anything less.”
Obviously, Reid and his players take the Grand Canyon Region very seriously as they aim to repeat as champions. However, teams like Flagstaff, Mohave and cross-town rival Bradshaw Mountain will be right on the Badgers’ tail, which is why Reid assures that winning every game will be crucial.
“The games that we really are keying on are the games in January when it gets into region play,” Reid said. “That’s when it really gets serious because you lose one, it could mean loss of the region, so every single game there becomes like a final.”
This season’s 12-game schedule will kick off with an away game against Poston Butte on Tuesday, Dec. 3. Prescott will then compete in the Cactus Cup Soccer Tournament at Desert Edge starting Dec. 5, followed by five freedom matches before starting region action on the road against Mingus on Jan. 22.
Flagstaff will visit Prescott on Jan. 24 with a 5 p.m. kickoff time while Bradshaw Mountain will also be visiting on Feb. 4 at 5 p.m. The Badgers’ home opener will be against Saguaro on Dec. 10 at 5 p.m.
Obviously, a return to the state championship will be in the back of everybody’s mind. The good thing is that the shortcoming in last year’s final has lit a fire among the team but Bruce said they’ll need to endure the trails and tribulation before even getting back to that point.
“It’s a little bit more [motivating] because now we want it that much more. Now we see how lost,” Bruce said. “It’s just going to take a lot focusing and limiting our mistakes or risks. And I think more communication among the team would be better.”
Aaron Valdez is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier of Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter at @Valaaron_94. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 928-445-3333, ext. 2031.