Tate Schmitt might have put the ball in the right spot for the assist and Josh Greene got credit for the first-half goal, but the Desert Vista tandem were hardly the lone reason the Thunder were victorious Friday night.
The Thunder came away with the Tempe Diablos Soccer Classic title by beating Hamilton 1-0 because the players stayed disciplined, played within their roles and continue buy into Rabasca’s system.
It has led to a 7-1 start to the season that was fortified with the shutout win over Hamilton, which came into the match undefeated on the year and having scored at least three goals in every match.
Yet against the Thunder, the Huskies (6-1) were unable to find the back of the net. There were plenty of opportunities, especially in the first half, but Desert Vista always managed to get a toe on it, intercept it or just plain had luck on its side.
“We haven’t had our best defensive effort yet,” said Rabasca, who didn’t let his players talk after the win. “That was the strongest group we played so to get a shutout was a positive. A lot came together. Having said that, they had several chances in the first half that easily could have changed the game. Fortunately for us the sequences and the ball turned our way.”
Hamilton coach Nick Markette, whose the team won the state title last season, said the test against the Thunder is what his team needed at this point in the season.
“It’s a funny game,” Markette said. “Sometimes things don’t bounce your way. It was good for us to play a good team and play some stressful minutes. We had to push and scrap every minute and it helps you mature competitively.”
Hamilton players Andrew Holland, Luis Manta and Gabriel Parra-Munoz had success earlier in the tournament, but were being beaten to spaces on the field and loose balls by Thunder players like John Abernathy, Mark Munoz and Danny Gavin while goalie Tim O’Brien came up with every stop needed.
The game got a little chippy in the second half, one Hamilton player received a red card, and the match was stopped several minutes for another incident.
It could have turned ugly but the Thunder handled it well, just like everything else the players came across this tournament, and came out on top.
“They are going to be who they want to be,” Rabasca said. “It is up to us to react properly and professionally. There was a lot of emotion. For what the game was it was appropriate and we did a good job of being the better professional, if you will.”