When Scottsdale Chaparral and Phoenix Arcadia faced off on Jan. 11, there was little doubt as to who had the better soccer team. Chaparral won by three goals, and the game was one reason the Firebirds were seeded No. 1 and the Titans No. 3 when the 5A Conference girls soccer playoffs began.
Exactly one month later, on a crisp Saturday evening, the two teams met again for the state title.
This time, Arcadia’s defense-first philosophy made life much tougher for Chaparral. But in the end, the result, if not the score, was the same: Sophomore midfielder McKenzie Davis’ header with 5 minutes, 20 seconds left in the second 10-minute overtime session gave Chaparral the 1-0 victory and state title.
“I thought it was a tough battle,” Chaparral coach Robyn Carlson said. “They’re a good team, and they just gave us everything.”
For much of the night, it looked like the game was destined for penalty kicks. But midway through the second overtime session, Chaparral’s Rachel Brown boomed a free kick off the crossbar. The ball bounced around the box, a second shot hit the crossbar and when Arcadia couldn’t clear it, Davis knocked in the game-winner.
“It hit off like eight posts, and I hit it in,” Davis said, a wide smile on her face.
Despite the loss, Arcadia coach Adam Zweiback was anything but disappointed.
“I’m unbelievably proud of my team,” he said. “We’ve had so many injuries, including injuries to our two top players. Beating (Scottsdale) Notre Dame (Friday), nobody in this stadium thought we could win and we did. And I don’t think anybody thought we could beat Chaparral, and we had a chance to win at the end of regulation.”
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Until Davis’ game-winner, there were few, if any, real scoring chances for either team. Chaparral controlled possession most of the half, but Arcadia dropped as many as seven players back, making it difficult for Chaparral to put balls on net.
Arcadia junior forward Kalena Teufel used her speed to create a couple of opportunities in the second half but just couldn’t find the back of the net. In the end, two bounces off the crossbar and one header were enough for Chaparral.
“I have great respect for that team and their coach,” Zweiback said.
The feeling was mutual.
“That was a championship game,” Carlson said. “Arcadia should be proud.”