Gilbert Highland boys soccer coach Tim Barmettler left his jacket at the field during last year’s state tournament. Phoenix Brophy coach Marc Kelly picked it up.
Kelly plans to give it back to his coaching comrade, and for convenience sake, he can do it later this week because the No. 8 Broncos’ convincing 4-0 victory against No. 16 Chandler on Saturday at Paradise Valley moves the red-hot Broncos into the state 5A-I semifinals against the Hawks Thursday at Arizona State.
Brophy has won nine consecutive matches, and has done so without being healthy.
It was hard to tell. The Broncos didn’t allow Chandler to get organized in the Broncos zone, and instead kept the pressure on offensively the entire way.
Brian Hines, Nick Ayers (who’s had leg injuries much of the season), Lucas Mazier and Taylor Ahrensdorf all scored goals for Brophy, which worked its ball-control passing game nearly flawlessly.
Hines scored following a header from Ayers. A powerful punt by goalie Patrick Poblete led to Mazier’s goal. Ayers put on a show and worked the ball between three Chandler defenders before his sliding kick found a corner, and Broglia was the recipient of a crossing pass by Sean Ayers.
“They got us on 50-50 balls, loose balls, open space, everywhere,” Chandler coach Matthew Davis said.
Nothing — including a Poblete save of Chandler’s penalty kick late in the second half — worked for the Wolves against these Broncos, who were picked by most East Valley coaches as a state title favorite in the preseason.
The Broncos lost to Highland in the first match of the season, then to Tucson Salpointe a few days later. “At that point we were believing our own hype,” Kelly said.
But then came more elite competition at a tournament in California right after Christmas, where Brophy won five matches on field turf, the same surface they played on Saturday, and what they’ll use at Brophy beginning next year.
“It’s a fast, true surface and that helps our game,” Kelly said. “When we’re putting the ball on the ground, ball control and movement, we’re most effective and dangerous.”
The Broncos have been better than the No. 8 seed they own, and it may be a benefit since few teams in the middle are ever considered favorites.
“Now it’s a matter of understanding they’ll have to do it through hard work,” Kelly said.