It took nearly 70 minutes before Yuma Catholic finally got the bounce it needed.
“This is super beautiful,” said Fernando Negrete, whose header in the 69th minute was the difference. “I don’t know how to explain it but it is beautiful.”
Holding on for the final 11 minutes gave Yuma Catholic the Division III state boys soccer championship in a 1-0 win over Scottsdale Coronado on Friday night at Gilbert Campo Verde.
“We had been practicing the corner kicks this week,” Negrete said in Spanish. “I knew I had to be in the middle, because that is where Jorge (Ruiz) would put the corner.”
Ruiz did put his corner kick in the middle and the ball went off Negrete’s head for the only goal in a tightly played match that saw few quality chances.
“We knew if we kept doing what we normally do, we would get it,” said Yuma Catholic coach Ralph Evan.
Yuma Catholic could not parlay its usual aggressive power game into many opportunities, with a strong Coronado backline. Meanwhile, Coronado used its ball control, multi-touch offense to near perfection in the first half and part of the second but couldn’t transfer that into shots on goal.
For Coronado it was the third runner-up finish in four years. Coronado beat Yuma Catholic 6-2 in the semifinals a year ago before winning its first title over Northwest Christian.
PHOTOS: HIGH SCHOOL BOYS SOCCER STATE TOURNAMENT 2015
Sandra Day O’Connor’s Musa Morris, left, is greeted by teammates after he scored against Chandler in their Division I boys soccer championship Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 in Gilbert, Ariz.
“It was a phenomenal game, these were two evenly matched teams, and it came down to a bounce going in,” said Coronado coach Nick Barker. “This isn’t how we wanted to finish but the season was success and we’re excited moving forward.”
As a No. 6 seed, Coronado had to get by third-seeded Cottonwood Mingus on the road and than ran past Tucson Amphitheater 5-1 in the semifinals on Wednesday.
But Friday was a different story. Christian Gaxiola tried to create from midfield as he has done this season but those chances were cut off by the Yuma Catholic defense. Juan Cisneros and Miguel Gonzalez tried to hook up with their left wing runs but they were also closed off and Yuma Catholic goalkeeper Joey Perricone turned away everything, including Gonzalez’ shot in the 55th minute that was about the best opportunity for Coronado.
Yuma Catholic also had a couple of great spots. Less than four minutes into the second half, 23-goal scorer Alexis Rodriguiz nearly got a point blank shot off, only to be smothered by Coronado keeper Augustin Barajas. In the 54th minute, Rodriguiz appeared to put Yuma Catholic ahead with a header that went off Barajas but Rodriguiz was ruled offside.