WEST VALLEY PREPS

Desert Mountain dominates midfield to knock out Sunrise Mountain girls soccer

Posted 3/13/21

Both of Desert Mountain's goals in its 5A girls soccer quarterfinal win at Sunrise Mountain Saturday afternoon were somewhat fluky.

However, the #11 seed Wolves spent enough of the rest of play …

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WEST VALLEY PREPS

Desert Mountain dominates midfield to knock out Sunrise Mountain girls soccer

Posted

Both of Desert Mountain's goals in its 5A girls soccer quarterfinal win at Sunrise Mountain Saturday afternoon were somewhat fluky.

However, the #11 seed Wolves spent enough of the rest of play controlling possession and winning 50/50 balls to earn those tallies, a 2-1 victory and a return trip to the state semifinals. It is the second straight year the Scottsdale school pulled a quarterfinal upset in the West Valley.

Desert Mountain (7-6) lost to two 6A quarterfinalists and three 5A quarterfinalists. One of those teams, #2 Gilbert Campo Verde (15-1) stands in the Wolves' way in the semifinals at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix.

"We've had the toughest schedule of anyone in 5A or 6A in the state. It has prepared this for this run. They're ready for the battle," Desert Mountain coach Mike Muto said.

It was a tough way to end one of the best seasons in the history of Sunrise Mountain girls soccer. The #3 seed Mustangs (11-2-1) made the 5A quarterfinals for the first time since 2006.

First-year Mustangs coach Sean Fallon inherited a veteran team with six seniors and was thrilled with the Mustangs' progress.

"I think we were a bit unlucky with both goals. But overall you can say that they won a lot of balls," Sunrise Mountain coach Sean Fallon said. "To only concede four goals all season is a testament to our back four."

After dominating the ball early in the Mustangs' zone without generating a bona fide scoring chance, the Wolves scored in the 25th minute against the run of play.

A long free kick by senior defender Megan McCarville bounced over a group of players from both teams, including keeper, into the upper right corner of the net net for a 1-0 Wolves lead.

"We finally got them in and we'll take them how they come," Muto said. "The midfield was fantastic today. They're the heart of the team. Kiki, Molly, Peighton and Presley are the four rotationg through the midfield and they give everything they have every second they're out there."

That seemed to fuel the Mustangs. Five minutes later Junior Alexis Yanke sento a long ball to senior forward Justyne Underwood down the right flank.

Underwood gathered for a run, forced the defender to commit and calmly slid a pass over to Yanke, who calmly scored the tying goal.

"Super proud of them. They fought hard all 80 minutes," Fallon said. "Desert Mountain plays very direct, with high energy and they like to press. When they're fresh they came out with a lot of energy to start with."

Both teams had opportunities before half time withought scoring.

Much like the first half, the rested Wolves blitzed the Mustangs early in the second. This time the visitors scored the decisive goal.

Junior forward Samantha Battenfield's shot deflected off a player and in. From there Desert Mountain dictated terms. Save for a Mustangs' free kick over the bar from 30 yards out, the Wolves were in control.

Still, the change from new boys coach Erik Andersen to Fallon could not have gone more smoothly.

"The seniors were a huge part of the successful transition. They were a great group of seniors that organized team bonding and helped a lot," Fallon said.

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