Second-seeded Phoenix Brophy Prep scored so fast that its coach missed the tying goal in overtime.
“I was still reacting to their goal,” said coach Noah Lewkowitz, who watched his team’s resilience pay off in a tough, 3-2 Division I boys soccer semifinal victory over Phoenix Alhambra that was decided on penalty kicks at Gilbert Campo Verde High on Wednesday night.
Brophy (20-2) will try to capture its second consecutive state championship Saturday night at 6 at Campo Verde against top-seeded Chandler Hamilton.
Fifteen seconds after Alhambra’s Benny Meza headed in a misdirected shot close to the goal, Brophy sophomore John Rea tied it at 2 with a blast from about 18 yards out with 7:10 left in the first of two 10-minute overtime periods.
Brophy players went wild, rushing over to greet Rea, who got loose after Brophy quickly caught Alhambra (17-2-1) napping on defense.
“This team has always shown a great knack of bouncing back,” Lewkowitz said.
Brophy got down in the first seven minutes of the game when Josias Ortiz blasted a shot in from center of the field about 25 yards away.
Brophy had three chances to score in the final minute of the first half, but twice goalie Eriberto Paredes made saves to keep the defending champs scoreless.
With the Brophy student section singing, Javi Bernaldo’s goal tied it at 1 less than eight minutes into the second half.
Alhambra had only one decent look at Brophy’s goal in the second half, and that came on a free kick that sailed high.
Brophy, meanwhile, continued to pepper Paredes, who kept coming up with saves. aAt one point late in regulation, it was just Rea loose on break against Paredes, who somehow made a stop on the sophomore.
Paredes later collided with a teammate in the second OT and had to come out with a gash on his head. He got bandaged up, and, even though Paredes didn’t finish the overtime periods, he was allowed to sub in for the penalty kicks.
Paredes stopped one shot, but Alhambra couldn’t take advantage after leading scorer Aziz Allanidkim’s shot sailed high over the goal.
Brophy didn’t miss again, and goalie Phil Mourikes stopped Ortiz’s shot for the victory.
“The kids fought hard,” said coach Zachary Zamenski, who led Alhambra the deepest the school has ever gone in boys soccer. “Brophy is a really good team that has been here. This was our first time here. The kids will learn from this, get better, and get back and be even better the next time.”