The Tempe Diablos Soccer Classic usually sets the tone for the coming high school season.
If that holds true again, the Central Region will have a stranglehold on 5A-I and Phoenix Mountain Pointe just may be the team to beat.
Spencer Thompson scored two goals for the third straight night to lead the Pride past Ahwatukee (and region) rival Phoenix Desert Vista 2-0 on Friday night in the boys championship game at Tempe Sports Complex.
“We had a lot of doubts coming into this tournament,” Thompson said. “With all the new players, we weren’t sure how the season was going to go. We have fought back. We never give up.”
Mountain Pointe “rallied” for the second straight night. The Pride (6-1) trailed 2-1 to another Central Region team, Tempe Corona del Sol, at halftime of Thursday night’s semifinal. But the two-time defending state champion Thunder (4-3) controlled much of the first half of the final.
“We were very fortunate (Thursday) night, Corona is real tough,” Mountain Pointe coach Bryan Sabato said. “Region play this year is going to be a dogfight.”
The Pride started to push the ball more late in the first half and into the second half and finally got their reward in the 50th minute.
Thompson, who spent much of the night trying to create chances along with teammates Darren Ng and John Kierstead, was making a run toward the Desert Vista goal when Sean McNabb was whistled for a foul on Thompson just outside the goal box.
Thompson drilled the 22-yard free kick, curling the ball to the left of Thunder goalkeeper Kyle Orne for the first score.
“We don’t always win pretty, but we win,” Sabato said. “Right now we are not a pretty soccer team. But we weathered the storm. We are very opportunistic. We have to find a way to gut these games out.”
In the 63rd minute, freshman Brandon Hansen found Thompson streaking along the right side of the box and Thompson fired home a shot from about 10 yards to help secure the victory.
“I think it’s not as much was what we didn’t do, it’s about what they did do,” Desert Vista coach Mike Rabasca said. “They had a great tournament. What’s good about it is that Central Region seems pretty strong still. So it speaks a lot for the region and I think that will be reflected when playoff time comes around.”
The Thunder had several chances, getting a half-dozen shots on goal that were stopped by Pride keeper Kyle Pearsall. But Desert Vista midfielders McNabb and Chris Hicks couldn’t get the final piece of a successful run. Zack Bower and Adam Farrer also contributed to the attack but even some of the better opportunities went awry.
Less than two minutes into the second half, Hicks’ left-footed corner kick bounced around in front of Pearsall but none of the Thunder players could put it in the net.
Desert Vista’s best chances came in the first 30 minutes.
Farrer missed just high and wide in the ninth minute and Hicks found Michael Prindle in front of the goal in the 18th minute to no avail.