Spencer Thompson thought for a minute and then talked about the one thing he never quite learned how to do in his four years on the Mountain Pointe soccer team.
“Heading the ball, that never came naturally to me. I never really learned it,” Thompson said. “I guess I’d rather just avoid slamming my head against the ball.”
Now for the things the Tribune’s Boys Soccer Player of the Year did do: score 34 goals and tally 10 assists on the year, lead the Pride to the state semifinals; and put fear in opposing goalkeepers and coaches alike.
This is his second consecutive All-Tribune first-team selection.
“I don’t even know where to begin with Spencer,” Mountain Pointe coach Bryan Sabato said. “He’s one of the most naturally gifted athletes I’ve ever seen.”
Thompson leaves Mountain Pointe with plenty of cherished memories, foremost the time spent with his teammates. Still, though, he leaves with the regret of never winning the big one. Mountain Pointe lost to Highland in the semifinals.
“It was really weird, because for the last three years I could always say ‘We’ve got next year,’ ” Thompson said. “It was hard dealing with (the reality of being out of chances).”
Although no one in his family played, Thompson was a natural from the time he first stepped on the soccer field when he was 5. He played alongside current Mountain Pointe teammate John Kierstead then — coached by John’s dad — and the duo helped lead the Pride attack years later.
Thompson joined club soccer when he was 8, but didn’t get back into school soccer until his freshman year of high school. Sabato must be glad he returned.
Thompson played on Mountain Pointe’s varsity all four years and will play collegiately next season.
He flirted with playing at the U.S. Naval Academy, but eventually decided on UC-Irvine, where Thompson may yet learn how to properly head the ball. Or maybe not.
“I don’t know, I just like controlling it with my body better,” Thompson said.
Class 5A All-Tribune first team Player School Yr. Pos. Comment
Kyle Pearsall Mtn. Pointe Sr. GK Allowed just three goals in state tournament Ryan Baker Highland Jr. D Shut-down defender helped Hawks to title Dustin Clarke Mesa Sr. D Versatile player best playing defense Nate Anderson Brophy Sr. D Uses smarts as well as talent Sean Miller Highland Sr. MF Best player on best team in state Brandon Rumore Gilbert Sr. MF 12 goals and 24 assists for Tigers Philippe Garre Brophy Sr. MF 21 goals, 15 assists for Desert Valley Region player of year Phil Michieli Gilbert Sr. F Potent offensive weapon had 23 goals Spencer Thompson Mtn. Pointe Sr. F Most dangerous scorer in state Scott Grode Basha Jr. F Scored five of the Bears’ six postseason goals Finlay O’Neill Highland Jr. F Fiesta Region offensive player of the year
Class 5A All-Tribune second team Player School Yr. Pos. Comment
Carter Brown Brophy Sr. GK Shut out opponents in more than half of outings Terrance Strozier Corona Sr. D A defensive force for Aztecs Ricky Lutz Mesa Sr. D East Valley Region defender of the year Ryan Fuertsch Gilbert Jr. D Big reason Gilbert reached title match A.J. Goshinska Highland So. MF First team Fiesta Region Rayce Lawrence Red Mtn. Jr. MF First team East Valley Region Derek Freeman Dobson So. MF First team East Valley Region John Kierstead Mtn. Pointe Sr. MF 14 goals, 11 assists on the year Kete Meskill Basha Jr. F Gave Basha good 1-2 punch next to Grode Nick Ayers Brophy So. F Bright future for young gun Trent Read Mtn. View Sr. F East Valley Region offensive player of year
Player of the Year: Spencer Thompson, Mountain Pointe
Coach of the Year: Tim Barmettler, Highland
Class 5A honorable mention Basha: Logan Myer, D, Sr.; Brophy: Chris Dierker, MF, Sr.; Chandler: Toby Wright, D, Jr.; Corona del Sol: Dain Williams, D, Sr.; Desert Ridge: Kevin Ferrat, D, Sr.; Desert Vista: Nick Romero, MF, Sr., Zack Bower, MF, Sr.; Gilbert: Brad Mason, MF, So.; Hamilton: Tony Cascio, MF, Jr., Brent Blaylock, GK, Sr.; Marcos de Niza: Xavier Ramirez, F, Jr.; Mesa: Antonio Lara, GK, Sr.; Mesquite: Chris Yoder, F, Jr.; Red Mountain: Michael Smith, GK, Jr.
Class 1A-4A All-Tribune first team Player School Yr. Pos. Comment
Connor Redd Pinnacle Jr. GK First-team Desert Sky Region Joe Liman Higley Sr. D Anchor on defense Brian Kirk Chaparral Sr. D Marked opposition’s best player Nikolaj Borum Arcadia So. MF Go-to player for Titans Tyler Schultz Pinnacle So. MF 20 goals, 14 assists in 20 games Juan Reyes Tempe Sr. MF Top scorer for upstart Buffaloes Shea Draney Saguaro Jr. MF Played full field for Sabercats, team’s anchor Dawson Rauch Fountain Hills Sr. MF Helped Falcons reach state quarterfinals Francisco Arredondo Coronado Sr. F Leading scorer for Dons Kyle Ciliento Pinnacle Jr. F 36 goals, 30 assists on the year Othello Kossigbo Arcadia Jr. F Strong leg led to 29 goals
Class 1A-4A All-Tribune second team Player School Yr. Pos. Comment
Giovani O’Campo Tempe Sr. GK Buffaloes allowed just 15 goals on year Eddie Salazar Tempe Sr. D Base of strong defensive core John Humphrey V. Christian So. D First-team all-East Region Mike Defeyter Saguaro Sr. D Marked best player on every team Austin Blaylock Arcadia Sr. D Fiery leader, expert at throw-ins Berekk Blackwell Notre Dame Jr. MF Top player for Saints Spencer Luna Chaparral Sr. MF First-team Desert Sky Region, fought injuries Weston Glenn Chaparral Jr. MF First-team Desert Sky Region Sergio Beltran Seton Sr. D Anchor of Sentinels, was all-East Region pick Sergio Chavez Higley Sr. F Knights’ main threat on offense Luis Lopez Tempe Sr. F Talented scorer complemented first-teamer Reyes
Player of the Year: Kyle Ciliento, Pinnacle
Coach of the Year: Rob Reniewicki, Arcadia
Class 1A-4A honorable mention Arcadia: Matthew Dom, D, Sr.; Coolidge: Phillip Bardowicks, MF, Sr.; Higley: Dennis Matic, F, So.; Pinnacle: George Malki, MF, Fr.; Queen Creek: Jose Delgadillo, D, Sr.; Tempe: Obedd Fuentes, F, Sr.; Saguaro: Michael Zehring, MF, Sr. Valley Christian: Paul Barker, MF, Jr.; Sam Pagel, MF, Sr.; Isaac Nelson, F, Jr. Fountain Hills: Jeff Suagee, D, Sr.; Willie Rupert, F, Jr. Florence: Rey Acosta, F, So.. Horizon Honors: Keith Sangston, M, Jr.
Looking back MEMORABLE MOMENTS FROM THE 2006-07 SEASON
Highland’s defense does it: The Hawks figured out in the postseason that if no one scores on you, it’s pretty easy to win. Highland shut out its final seven opponents — four of which came in the state tournament — and rode it to the state title. In those seven games, Highland outscored the opposition 21-0. Sean Miller and Ryan Baker were the keys to the stifling defense.
Arcadia catches fire: The Titans sure picked a good time for everything to come together. Ninth-seeded Arcadia went into each of its state tournament games as the underdog, but didn’t lose until running into Rio Rico in the state championship match. The run included a win over top-seeded Douglas in the second round and No. 4 seed Tempe in the semifinals.
Fiesta, Fiesta: While four of the final eight teams were from the Central Region, the last two standing were both Fiesta Region teams. Gilbert beat Basha in one semifinal, and Highland beat Mountain Pointe in the other. Combined, the two regions accounted for half of the tournament’s 16 teams.
Lone Ranger: Fountain Hills was the only East Valley team to make the second round of the 1A/2A/3A state tournament. Seton, Valley Christian, Coolidge and Tempe Prep all fell in the opening round. The Falcons didn’t last too much longer, losing 5-1 to Northwest Christian in their quarterfinal matchup.