The expectation of a No. 1 seed is nothing short of a state championship.
And up 3-1 in the 5A-I state semifinal match against No. 4 Yuma Kofa on Thursday night at Campo Verde High School, the top-seeded Brophy boys soccer team could have coasted into Saturday night's final.
The visitors from southwestern Arizona had other ideas. Two goals within six minutes left a game otherwise dominated by Brophy tied 3-3 in the dying minutes, but Kevin Grigsby scored in the 77th minute as the Broncos advanced to the championship match with a 4-3 victory.
“We let the lead slip but we got the win and that's all that matters,” Grigsby said. “Now we have to focus on Saturday and the championship.”
Broncos' coach Marc Kelly agreed: “What a crazy game. I thought we had it sealed up at 3-1 and then that Kofa team never quit.”
Kofa tied it with just under 11 minutes left.
“There was some doubt, there was some doubt,” Grigsby said. “But we knew we had the capability of getting there. It was up to us to perform well enough.”
The Kofa rally came against Brophy's backup goalkeeper, sophomore Michael O'Connor. Starter Nate Sundermaier came down with the flu Thursday morning, Kelly said.
Brophy seemed in control early and then even more so late after Grigsby gave the Broncos the lead in the 54th minute, putting in a cross from Ian Poblete to put Brophy (14-1) ahead 2-1.
Then, in the 62nd minute, Brophy got what it thought was insurance when Kyle Seeger made a beautiful cross to Riggs Lennon in front of the goalkeeper and Brophy led 3-1.
However, Kofa (13-1) battled back.
First, Estefan Jimenez found the net off a throw-in by Colby Carr in the 64th minute. Then, in the 69thminute, Erik Altamirano scored just outside the 6-yard box to tie it for the Kings, which hadn't lost a game to an Arizona school all season.
“We really wanted to play Brophy, we really wanted Brophy,” said Kofa coach Jamie Nicewander. “This was a great game. This could have been a final.”
Brophy's persistence paid off when Esteban Obregon crossed the ball in front of the net to Grigsby who headed it in past the Kofa keeper with 3:09 showing on the clock.
“We didn't know anything about them coming in,” Kelly said of Kofa. “I thought they had played a soft schedule but there was nothing soft about these guys. We battled and took care of our opportunities. We could have put away a little bit more.”
Seven minutes into the game, Lennon put his team ahead with a shot from about 18 yards out.
But Kofa's Donal Landrum – who scored 34 goals during the season – continued to put pressure on O'Connor and in the 34th minute Carr knocked in a rebound off the left post to even the game at 1.
The teams were even early in the second half with Brophy again trying to get its offensive game going. The Broncos' aggressiveness led to a couple of yellow cards in the first 15 minutes of the second half.
After Brophy took a 2-1 lead, Kofa's Carr had a chance from inside the box on a pass from Alex Garcia but Carr put it outside the net.
Kofa lost two key players -- sweeper Michael Eldrige and then four-year starter Angel Figueroa – to injury on the night but still rallied.