Boys Soccer State Tournament Semifinals
Who: No. 6 Brophy vs. No. 10 Tolleson; No. 1 Chaparral vs. No. 4 Hamilton;
When: Wednesday at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. respectively
Where: Campo Verde H.S. (3870 S. Quartz Street, Gilbert)
Outlook: Brophy was considererd a favorite coming into the tournament, and there's little reason to believe the defending-champions can't return to the title match. The Broncos are talented up front with Riggs Lennon (49 goals) and David Lane, as even in a 1-0 overtime victory last weekend, they had numerous chances against one of the best defenses in the state in Gilbert during the quarterfinals match. When the defense and goalkeeper Nate Sundermeier is mentally focused, Brophy is tough to puncture. Tolleson is the obvious surprise of the Final Four, as the Wolverines beat a solid Mountain View squad in the first round, 1-0, and then knocked off a very good Phoenix Maryvale team, 5-4, in penalty kicks last weekend. It was the third time those two schools faced each other.
The nightcap should be a dandy. Finally, Chaparral and Hamilton will face each other in football (oops, we meant fútbol). In soccer parlance, this could unfold as well as many thought a football matchup would. The Huskies are seeking a third consecutive trip to the state championship match, and, beyond that, a first title during this stretch (lost to Corona del Sol in 2010 and Brophy in 2011). Nick Markette's team has dealt with youth and injuries all season, but Danny Arrubla's return from illness to set a school record in scoring (35 goals) marked one of the precious few times a near-full lineup was at Hamilton's disposal. Chaparral has arguably the best defense in the state, and Jason Speirs' squad has relied on it in wins against Goodyear Millennium and Chandler to get here. It's strength (Hamilton offense) vs. strength (Chaparral defense) in the nightcap, which, of course, means a 1-0 final or shootout is bound to happen.
Mark Heller is the East Valley Tribune sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 898-6576.