Mingus coach: No reason to have 'rebuilding year'

Mingus coach: No reason to have 'rebuilding year'

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Mingus coach: No reason to have 'rebuilding year'

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Cottonwood Mingus coach Buddy Rhodes saw this season as a rebuilding year.

Senior Nataly Escamilla was the only girl who remained from the 2010 state-championship team, and this year’s squad was largely comprised of underclassmen.

But despite its inexperience, Mingus found itself in the Division III girls’ soccer state tournament yet again, and as the No.3 seed no less. The young team sure didn’t look like an improbable opponent Tuesday in its semifinal match against No. 7 Glendale Cactus.

After a scoreless first half, Mingus came out and dominated in the last 40 minutes, scoring two early goals and rolling to a 3-0 victory.

Mingus will advance to play the winner of the Buckeye Verrado-Gilbert Campo Verde matchup in the state championship on Friday at Gilbert Campo Verde High.

After a tight first half, a much more aggressive Mingus offense came out in the second and wasted little time taking shots at the net.

“We just needed to play the ball, make passes rather than get into their long-ball game,” Rhodes said.

After two near misses, junior Haley Backus scored the team’s first goal, heading the ball in the net in the 47th minute.

Backus, standing only 5 feet 2, said the ball looked out of reach to her at first glance but she went for it anyway.

“I jumped as high as I could to get it,” she said. “I’m pretty much the header girl of the team. I’ve scored three headers this year.”

Escamilla found the net a little later off a wide-open shot from center field in the 55th minute to put Mingus up 2-0, and Martina Bueno scored again in the 73rd minute. The final goal appeared to deflate a struggling Cactus squad.

And though Rhodes may still feel a bit like his team is playing on borrowed time, he said Mingus has every intention to end its unlikely journey with a victory.

“It’s a successful season for us regardless, but, you know, we’re not coming down here to give anything up,” he said. “We’re not conceding anything. We’re coming down to win a championship.”

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