A scoreless first half left the Chaparral High School boys soccer team only 40 minutes to find a way to defeat a pesky Flowing Wells High School team.
The No. 5 Firebirds used an improved second-half offense to put all of its goals on the board as they went on to beat the No. 13 Caballeros 4–1 at home to advance to the semifinals Saturday, Feb. 9 at Campo Verde High School in Gilbert.
Throughout the first half, neither team made headway with much of play staying around the midfield. Chaparral Head Coach Jason Speirs said during the first half, he thought his players were not sticking true to what they did best.
“We got sucked into (Flowing Wells’) style in the first half and slowed it down in the first half,” Coach Speirs said after the match. “Then we picked it up in the second half and played our own style and played what we do best.”
That style Coach Speirs is referring to is a possession-based and in-control style of play, he said.
Chaparral midfielder Andre Henderson scored the first goal of the game with a shot from near the top of the box in the 45th minute. The Caballeros responded with forward Jose Diaz firing a shot past the goalkeeper who was off his mark.
The Firebirds regained the lead after forward Ethen Cohen converted a penalty kick to give his team a 2–1 lead in the 62nd minute.
Henderson netted his second goal of the match after redirecting a cross into the goal in the 74th minute. Four minutes later, Chaparral scored its fourth goal of the match.
Flowing Wells Head Coach Edgar Venalonso said Chaparral got those last two goals because he shifted the Caballeros’ formation.
“Once we were down, we tried to push the team forward in the last 10 minutes and that’s what created the space in the back for them to put two more goals in,” he said after the match.
Chaparral had the clear size advantage but Coach Venalonso said he believed his players passed the ball better, particularly in the midfield.
In the first half, Henderson said Chaparral had the most problems in the midfield against Flowing Wells, which resulted in the uncharacteristic period.
“They outnumbered us in the midfield but once we were able to get in our formation — one holding mid and one attacking mid — we were able to control them as long as we shifted as a unit,” he said after the match.
Henderson said he noticed the Caballeros get frustrated late in the match as they fell behind.
This resulted in the official pulling a couple of yellow cards on the Caballeros. Coach Venalonso said he was most frustrated with the officiating but credits Chaparral for playing solid soccer to advance.
The Firebirds will play No. 8 Ironwood High School in the 5A semifinals at Campo Verde High School in Gilbert. Ironwood upset No. 1 Queen Creek 2–1 in the quarterfinals.
Coach Speirs said in order to be ready for that match, his team needs to produce two solid halves instead of struggling through one.
“You can’t do that in the semifinals,” he said. “You have to wake up from the beginning, play with the on switch on and go all the way through for 80 minutes. If we can do that, I think we can beat anybody.”