PHOENIX - Some teams may start to coast once they reach a 4-0 lead at half time, but not Casteel boys soccer.
Head coach Greg Lanman came over to the fans in attendance shouting, “We haven’t won it yet,” before he spoke with his team during the half of the March 20 5A state final against #3 seed Ironwood.
The intensity put out by coach Lanman was matched by his team in the second half, where the Colts put up an additional four goals to help seal the 5A title by a stunning 8-2 margin at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix.
As the top seeded Casteel team met on the tennis courts just south of the field following the game, parents and family gathered to capture the special moment. When coach Lanman spoke to the crowd, there was a visible sense of happiness and joy.
“We’re connected now for the rest of our lives.” coach Lanman said.
From the jump, the Colts showed why they are the top team in the conference.
The game started as any other, but around the 3’, the head official issued a yellow card to both teams. Following the game, Ironwood head coach Tim Beck said this was due to both teams having stripes on their socks, a rule he said that had been loosely enforced all season.
The scoring was started off by junior Ethan Calimpong in the 8’ for the Colts, and it was all downhill from there for the Eagles. Junior Jacob Aguayo would tack on a second goal with a deep strike shortly after, and senior Dillon Crowder netted another with a header off a long throw in.
Heading into the game, the most goals given up by either team all season was three. By the 22’, Casteel had matched that total. Before the end of the first half, the Colts managed to increase the lead with another goal, this time from senior Kaden Cameron.
Ironwood did not go away quietly though, playing until the final whistle. Senior Adrian Sanchez and junior Gabriel Ayala were able to score a goal each in the second half.
Beck said they were flat-out, “beat by a better team.”
Though it may have been a subpar performance for Ironwood, the Eagles undoubtedly accomplished something few ever do in making it to the state championship.
Beck's team broke through this year following three semifinal losses in the past four year. This was Ironwood's first state final since its 2011 championship team.
Boys soccer is the Glendale school's most successful program with nine state finals appearances. Ironwood has six state titles - with four of those crowns coming in Beck's 27 seasons as coach.
While the season ends in heartache on one side, it ends in celebration on the other. And there was a lot of that going around for Casteel High.
Calling yourself a state champion is an exclusive title, something that Ethan Calimpong says feels, “incredible.” The junior picked up a hat-trick on the afternoon, attributing his success to the chemistry that the entire Casteel team has.
There was a moment this school year when winter sports were cancelled entirely. But thanks to a revote that put sports back on the calendar, Casteel and others get to enjoy moments like this.
The Casteel boys finish the 2020-21 season as 5A state champions, with a record of 13-1. Throughout the entirety of this season, including the post-season, the Colts gave up a total of ten goals this year, while scoring ninety-four.
Senior striker Kaden Cameron praised the coaching staff for how hard they push them as student-athletes.
“They push us every day in practice, they push us in every game, in every way,” Cameron said, “they are the most passionate coaches I have ever had, no doubt in my mind.”
Sammy Rivera is a sports journalism student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University and coach of the North Pointe Prep girls basektball team