It took the determination of Phoenix Brophy Prep’s Temi Molinar to draw the penalty. It took the accuracy of Jimmy Meglio’s free kick. And it took the coordination of John Paul Garre to score the goal.
Taken together, that game-winning combination lifted Brophy to a 2-1 victory over Phoenix Desert Vista in a thrilling overtime match for the 5A Division I boys soccer state championship Thursday night.
“It took a team effort from a team that never stopped believing in itself,” Broncos coach Marc Kelly said. “What else can you say? What a fantastic way to finish the season for a great group of guys.”
It’s the first championship Brophy has won since 1995. The Broncos, who entered the state tournament as the No. 2 seed, finished the season 22-2-1. It also marks the second time Brophy has defeated the Thunder for a state title. The football team also beat Desert Vista in that sport’s title game this past December.
Even with the temperatures dropping to football-like conditions — and the play seemingly as physical — at Arizona State’s soccer stadium, the Broncos quickly tossed their playing jerseys to the side following the match and sported red state championship T-shirts.
It was another show of solidarity which the team has used as its motivation all season.
“We have played together as a team all season so we want to leave the field as a team,” Garre said. “You can’t beat playing with this group of awesome guys.”
Garre scored the game winner in the eighth minute of the second 10-minute overtime period. Molinar set up the play by hustling with the ball before drawing a tripping penalty. Meglio sent the ensuing free kick well into the Desert Vista goal box.
Following a couple of headed balls and a few deflections, Garre found himself with the ball on his left foot. The junior midfielder was able to sneak it past Thunder goalie Kyle Ome with 8:12 left to play.
“It happened so fast,” Garre said. “It just feels so great for us to win a championship.”
“When you make as many mistakes as we did in your own box, you are not going to win a title,” Desert Vista coach Michael Rabasca said. “We made way too many mistakes. They took advantage. That’s what happened.”
Following a scoreless first half, the Broncos took a 1-0 lead on a Nick Ayers goal in the 15th minute of the second half. Ben Anderson’s pass set up Ayers in the right corner of the box.
Desert Vista (16-8-1), the tourney’s No. 4 seed, tied the game in the 28th minute.
Aaron Brandt headed in a pass from Riley Niles from the middle of the outer goal-box line. His diving play beat Joe Fellows to the right side of the net.
The Thunder nearly tied the game in the final 40 seconds of overtime. The ball got behind Fellows, but Meglio was able to kick the ball out of harm’s way a few feet from the goal line.
“You always believe you have a chance to win it,” Kelly said. “But you never know if you’ll get the breaks. Our guys never stopped hustling. They deserve it.”