Gilbert Campo Verde girls soccer hits goal of winning school's 1st state title

Gilbert Campo Verde girls soccer hits goal of winning school's 1st state title


Gilbert Campo Verde girls soccer hits goal of winning school's 1st state title


Gilbert Campo Verde girls soccer coach Rosie Headley had a simple message for her team the first day of tryouts:

“If you don’t want to win the state championship, grab your bag and there’s the gate,” Headley said.

Standard coaching material, but Headley truly believed Campo Verde had the talent to win the Division III state title. She also knew that in the school’s short history — it opened in 2008 and didn’t play varsity sports until the 2009-10 season — no athletic program had put that first state championship in the trophy case.

As the playoffs drew near, being first became foremost in the players’ minds.

“It hit us about three weeks ago,” Headley said. “The girls were like, ‘All right, let’s make history.’”

On a cool Friday night, Campo Verde did just that, beating Cottonwood Mingus 1-0 and leaving their effervescent coach momentarily speechless.

“It’s so surreal right now,” Headley said after needing a few seconds to put her feelings into words. “They fought so hard for this.”

To make the night even more special, Campo Verde won the title on its home field, in front of a large group of fans who chanted all night, blew vuvuzelas and stormed the field when the clock ran out.

(All the state championship games are being played at Campo Verde, which has Field Turf. The site was pre-selected months ago.)

“We definitely had our school community behind us 100 percent,” Headley said. “That was evident tonight.”

So was the support for Mingus. The school shut down at noon Friday so fans could make the 130-mile trip to Campo Verde. Fans gobbled up approximately 225 tickets, and at one point during the second half, the two sections full of Mingus’ fans started doing the wave.

Unfortunately, the game itself left them little to cheer about. Campo Verde dominated possession — particularly in the first half — and got on the board when senior Shannon Costello found the ball on her right foot during a scrum in front of the net and shot it home.

In four playoff games, it was the only goal Mingus allowed.

“No words can describe it,” Costello said. “We set the foundation for (other teams) at the school to build on.”

Amid the joy, however, there was also anguish. Less than four minutes into the game, junior midfielder and captain Meg McDowell crumpled to the turf. She sat on the bench for a few minutes, but when she got up to test her injured right knee she fell to the track and cried out in pain.

The diagnosis: a torn anterior-cruciate ligament.

After a couple of generic questions about the game, Headley was asked if McDowell’s injury made the championship bittersweet. Unable to answer, she just shook her head yes as her eyes welled with tears.

McDowell, wearing a brace on her injured knee, limped way from the team picture with the state championship trophy in her hands.

“I’m so proud of this team,” she said. “They worked hard and busted their butt to get things done. Unfortunately, I couldn’t win it with them.”

Her teammates — and her coach — knew better. Headley raved about McDowell’s talent and leadership, calling her a phenomenal player. The championship was hers as much as it was any player’s.

There will be other state titles for Campo Verde. The school is in its infancy but it has terrific facilities and is in a rapidly growing area. It won’t be long before there’s company in the trophy case.

But there can only be one first time.

For Campo Verde, forever, it will be the girls soccer team.

Reach Bordow at or 602-444-7996. Follow him on Twitter at


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