Rundowns and predictions for the 2010 girls state soccer tournament:
5A Division I
First-round matchups: No. 16 Alhambra at No. 1 Xavier; No. 9 Mountain Ridge at No. 8 San Luis; No. 12 Trevor Browne at No. 5 Mountain Pointe; No. 13 Mountain View at No. 4 Highland; No. 14 Chandler at No. 3 Hamilton; No. 11 Desert Ridge at No. 6 Desert Vista; No. 10 Mesquite at No. 7 Red Mountain; No. 15 Corona del Sol at No. 2 Gilbert.
Favorite: Xavier is the defending champions and on a 10-match winning streak. The Gators have nearly been as good as last season and likely won’t have trouble until the semifinals.
Darkhorse: Highland is the only Arizona team to beat Xavier this season outside of tournaments. The Hawks also knocked off Desert Vista twice, plus Mountain Pointe and Corona del Sol. Despite a couple late-season losses, the forwards and goaltending are strong, recipes for a run.
Outlook: The Gators are the team to beat, but there’s no reason to think a Hamilton, Highland, Desert Vista, Gilbert or Mountain Pointe couldn’t do it. A potential Highland-Xavier rematch from earlier this season looms in the semifinals, as does another Hamilton vs. Desert Vista matchup in Saturday’s quarterfinals (if the seedings hold up). Hamilton won in penalty kicks over D.V. last weekend. Most consider Corona del Sol better than a 15th seed, so there’s plenty of parity and mystery to come.
5A Division II
First-round matchups: No. 16 Camelback at No. 1 Millennium; No. 9 Desert Mountain at No. 8 Cibola; No. 12 Willow Canyon at No. 5 Marana Mountain View; No. 13 Chaparral at No. 4 Ironwood Ridge; No. 14 Sandra Day O’Connor at No. 3 Westview; No. 11 Pinnacle at No. 6 Marcos de Niza; No. 10 Rincon at No. 7 Carl Hayden; No. 15 Ironwood at No. 2 Horizon.
Favorite: Horizon’s lone loss in power points was to 5A-I power Xavier as the Huskies ran unblemished through a difficult Desert Valley Region schedule. The Huskies are deep, talented and selfless.
Darkhorse: Marcos de Niza has one of the best players in the state in Alex Doller, and the Padres’ losses have come against quality 5A-I teams (Mountain Pointe, Gilbert, Mesquite).
Outlook: Any of the Desert Valley teams (Horizon, Pinnacle, Desert Mountain, Chaparral) or Marcos can make a significant run through the brackets. Millennium, Ironwood Ridge and Westview are the West Valley’s big three, so put those eight together and it should be one of the best tournament brackets to unfold in boys or girls.
4A Division I
First-round matchups: No. 16 Peoria at No. 1 Catalina Foothills; No. 9 Sunnyslope at No. 8 Apollo; No. 12 Cienega at No. 5 Flowing Wells; No. 13 Canyon del Oro at No. 4 Sahuaro; No. 14 Sunrise Mountain at No. 3 Prescott; No. 11 Sabino at No. 6 Queen Creek; No. 10 Marana at No. 7 Raymond Kellis; No. 15 Independence at No. 2 Cactus Shadows.
Favorite: Not many arguments to be made against Catalina Foothills, which won titles from 2005 through 2007 and is undefeated despite playing heavy amounts of 5A-I and 5A-II competition.
Darkhorse: Cactus Shadows lost to McClintock to end the season, but the Falcons have a relatively easy road to the semifinals, and if they meet Queen Creek there, the Falcons already have a 5-0 win on the Bulldogs under their collective caps.
Outlook: A Tucson school has won the championship since the divisions split in 2006 and Pinnacle (2006) is the only non-Tucson school to reach the title match. Cactus Shadows is the East Valley’s best hope of getting there opposite Foothills, but No. 3 Prescott has eight shutouts this season and a semifinal showdown with Cactus Shadows would be fun.
4A Division II
First-round matchups: No. 16 Cholla at No. 1 Mingus; No. 9 Notre Dame at No. 8 Palo Verde; No. 12 Douglas at No. 5 Paradise Valley; No. 13 Greenway at No. 4 Coconino; No. 14 Williams Field at No. 3 Arcadia; No. 11 Page at No. 6 Verrado; No. 10 Mohave at No. 7 Seton Catholic; No. 15 Liberty at No. 2 Flagstaff.
Favorite: Mingus earned a No. 1 seed. After falling in a thriller to Notre Dame for last year’s championship, the Marauders have nine consecutive shutouts in power point matches, with wins against Notre Dame, Flagstaff and 4A-I standout Prescott included.
Darkhorse: Defending champion Notre Dame is a No. 9 seed and has a tough opener with Palo Verde. A second-round rematch with Mingus awaits the Saints, but they only lost 1-0 at Mingus in early December. This time it would be a neutral field.
Outlook: Pretty wide open. The seeding looks fairly accurate to the teams’ level (other than perhaps Notre Dame being better than a 9th seed). No. 2 Flagstaff still has players from the championship teams of 2007 and 2008, but Seton Catholic will make it difficult in the second round on a neutral field and warmer climate. Arcadia has a good chance to reach the championship game but would have to reverse one-goal losses to Seton and Flagstaff from earlier this season.
First-round matchups: No. 9 Tempe Prep at No. 8 Safford; No. 12 Globe at No. 5 Sedona Red Rock; No. 11 Yuma Catholic at No. 6 Florence; No. 10 St. Gregory at No. 7 Northwest Christian. (No. 1 Estrella Foothills, No. 2 Pusch Ridge, No. 3 Fountain Hills and No. 4 Valley Christian have first-round byes)
Favorite: Defending champion Estrella Foothills is the team to beat. A few teams have come close (Yuma Catholic, Sedona Red Rock, NW Christian) but we’d have to see it to believe it first.
Darkhorse: Valley Christian earned a first-round bye and wouldn’t have to face Pusch Ridge (VC lost 5-0 in January) until the championship, but it’s too bad they’d have to play Estrella Foothills in the semifinals.
Outlook: This seeding also looks fairly accurate, with Estrella, Pusch Ridge, Fountain Hills and Valley Christian the leaders. Big upsets don’t look likely in this bracket, especially with so many days off in between rounds to rest.