Gilbert coach Jeff Perry entered Friday night’s match against Mesa Dobson knowing his team could not advance beyond the pool play round of the Coyote Classic Tournament, so he used the matchup as an opportunity to let Gilbert’s younger players get some experience.
And the underclassmen filled in just fine.
A pair of first-half goals by sophomores Robby Baca and Zach Hellman proved to be just enough Friday, as Gilbert went on to defeat Dobson 2-1 at Campo Verde High School and end the tournament on a high note.
“We were letting kids play, giving them a chance to play at the varsity level” Perry said. “We had five or six sophomores and a freshman playing today so that’s good.”
Baca gave Gilbert an early lead, scoring in the fourth minute of the game. Hellman scored again for Gilbert in the 38th minute to give his team a 2-0 lead at halftime.
“It did a flip throw and it hit the goalie’s hand and bounced in,” Hellman said.
Scoring first is key, Perry said.
“First goal is always good,” he said. “If we don’t get the first goal then a lot of times we’re playing on our heels. We weren’t playing on our heels today.”
Dobson responded in the second half with a goal by Kevin Macias to cut the lead to one. Both teams had their chances late, but neither offense would find the net again.
Friday marked Baca’s first goal of the season and Hellman’s second. Hellman said tournaments like this are also good way to get familiar with opponents that Gilbert will face later in the season.
“We get to see what all the other teams look like so that when we come out and play them, we’ll know what they are and how they play,”he said.
Gilbert also defeated Dobson earlier this season, winning 4-2 on on December 2nd. Tournament games do not affect power rankings.
Early tournament losses prevented Gilbert from advancing to Saturday, but after playing six games in ten days a weekend off isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“It would have been good to advance, but we’ll train tomorrow and get ready for next week,” Perry said.