This time, there was no early drama. And the match didn’t need the full 80 minutes to decide a champion.
In what was a rematch of last season’s Division III tournament state-title game, Phoenix Cortez defended its championship with a 4-0 win over Scottsdale Coronado on Friday night at Gilbert Campo Verde High.
Last season, Cortez needed a penalty kick save in the first minute and to defend a 1-0 lead for the last 70 minutes to win.
On Friday, it put the match away with three goals in the first half. Cortez senior forward Roberto Valenzuela scored twice, once in the first half, to finish the season with a team-high 26 goals.
“I told (my players), ‘If you want it more than them, then you have to let it all out on the field,’” Cortez coach Jose Corona said.
“They did the work. I told them to close the gap and don’t let (Coronado) turn (with the ball), and any chance you have, take your time. If the ball goes through the defense, you will score.”
Top-seeded Coronado, which returned nine starters from 2012, was the state-title favorite from the start of the season.
Cortez, which won its third state title in four seasons, had graduated 12 players.
So it was Coronado, which was without leading scorer Miguel Gonzalez due to injury, that looked to be the aggressor heading into Friday, wanting to keep possession and attack the goal as often as possible. Coronado’s players showed impressive individual skills, but it was Cortez that kept the pressure and stayed on the attack.
Cortez’s first goal came in the 18th minute when Valenzuela one-touched a high “50-50” ball to freshman Juan Mora, who took a step and one-timed a hard, low shot from 24 yards that beat the goalkeeper.
Cortez went up 2-0 eight minutes later on Valenzuela’s individual effort to weave through the defense and score from eight yards out.
Cortez’s lead increased to 3-0 in the 31st minute when it switched the field with a long pass to right midfielder Christopher Villareal, who settled it, dribbled 7 yards down and scored from 17 yards out with a defender on his left hip.
Valenzuela scored his second goal in the 47th minute on a penalty kick.
Emotions were high in the last 20 minutes as two skirmishes broke out but didn’t escalate.