Fourth-seeded Tucson Salpointe Catholic defeated No. 14 Glendale Apollo 2-0 Saturday to claim back-to-back Division II boys soccer state titles at Gilbert Campo Verde High School.
“It never gets old,” Salpointe coach Wolfgang Weber said, who captured his sixth state championship with the win. “And this is a terrific group of players.”
Salpointe, who blew through the tournament scoring 18 goals and allowing just one, tested Apollo’s goalkeeper Steven Flores early and often, but Flores was sensational in the first half, stopping every shot.
“He showed why he’s one of the best keepers in the state in my opinion,” Apollo coach Dan Benford said.
Sophomore Gavino Carranza finally broke through with just seven minutes gone in the second half. Carranza crossed the ball from 20 yards out and it sailed over Flores’ head and to the far post.
“The whole point was to get a cross off but it actually went in the goal,” Carranza said. “It wasn’t my choice but a goal is a goal and it’s very exciting to score in the championship like that.”
Frustrations mounted for Apollo, who scratched and clawed their way to the championship game with three one-goal victories, as they accumulated three yellow cards and a red card by midfielder Andy Alanis, who was sent off, forcing Apollo to play a man down for the rest of the game.
Salpointe stayed aggressive and scored an insurance goal with just over three minutes remaining, when senior Colin O’Brien booted a free kick in the back of the net from 30 yards out.
“Apollo was a formidable opponent,” Weber said. “At halftime we looked a little frustrated and things weren’t coming as easy as they were used to, but I thought we really got it around in the second half and did a great job.”