When you look at the history between the Phoenix Brophy Prep and Hamilton boys soccer teams over the past four years, it is easy to assume that there is tension or a rivalry between the two programs.
“The past four years that I have been here, we have either played against Brophy in the playoffs and won or played against them in the playoffs and lost,” Hamilton senior Tyler Patel said. “We won in 2012, but every other year we have come up short.”
Brophy became the Division I state champions when they beat Hamilton 1-0 in penalty kicks Feb 15. Neither team was able to score during regulation play so the game came down to penalty kicks. Brophy edged out Hamilton 4-2.
Penalty kicks have played a role in all of Hamilton’s losses this season.
“We have only lost two matches this season, going 23-2, and neither game did we lose in regulation,” Hamilton coach Nick Markette said. “Both were lost in PK. It is a thrilling way to win and a demoralizing way to lose … I imagine if they (were) permitted to, the two teams would still be playing right now. It is just two really good programs, two very, very proud groups of young men, and two great schools doing what they love to do. Unfortunately for us, we just came up a little bit short.”
Even after the loss to Brophy, Markette maintained that there are no bad feelings or a rivalry, and least in the traditional connotation of the word.
“If you mean rivalry out of dislike (then) no, but if you are talking about rivalry between two great teams … Then yeah you’ve got a rivalry,” Markette said. “But it’s not like the Red Sox and the Yankees, who hate each other, or Tottenham and Arsenal, who hate each other.”
Hamilton’s players didn’t approach the game with any contention or malice. Before the championship game, Will Stemple, a center-back for Hamilton, said, “We know a lot of kids on (Brophy’s) team; we are friends with them from club soccer, so it should just be fun getting to play them.”
This was Markette’s seventh year at Hamilton, and during that time his goal has been to create one of the finest soccer programs in the country. But he has also focused on how his team approaches the game.
“We are trying to take the venom out,” Markette said. “We are trying to encourage our kids to learn how to play as hard as humanly possible but without malice.”
Hamilton ended the season with a record of 23-2, and even though the seniors were unable to win their second state title, they still made an impact on the program.
“The Hamilton seniors took the program another step forward and set the table for the program to continue to get stronger,” Markette said. “Because of the seniors, the future is as bright as it ever has been at Hamilton.”