Thunder defeat rival Aztecs
February 5, 2020 by Kelsey Collesi, Arizona State University
Kelsey Collesi is an ASU Cronkite School of Journalism student assigned to cover Desert Vista for AZPreps365.com
A Desert Vista goal in the final seconds gave the Thunder a 2-1 win against Corona del Sol on Senior Appreciation Night on Tuesday.
When the two teams met last year, the game had a similar ending. In the final 10 seconds of double overtime, Desert Vista had a long throw-in that a player on the back post put in the net, giving the Thunder a 1-0 win.
“[Winning] was one of our preseason goals with the region,” Aztec head coach Dan Salas said.
This game, like most with these two teams, had regional championship implications. The Thunder (7-3, 3-0) and Aztecs *8-2, 3-0) were both undefeated in the region coming into this game.
It was looking like the game was going to go into overtime. In the final minutes, the score was tied, 1-1. With 31 seconds to go, Desert Vista was awarded a free kick near midfield. Senior Jonathan Munoz took the kick and placed it right in front of the goal. Dust from the field flew up as players from both teams scuffled to get the ball. The whistle blew and as the dust settled, Desert Vista’s Connor McHale was down, and the Thunder were awarded a penalty kick.
At that moment, Thunder head coach Trent Elliot wanted his players to decide who should take the kick.
“I said, "whoever wants the ball, grab the ball,'” Elliot said.
Luke Dotts, a sophomore, stepped up to take the penalty kick with 21 seconds remaining. With a low and powerful shot, Dotts found the bottom left corner of the net and the stadium erupted.
Dotts ran outside the field on to the track in celebration as his teammates trailed behind him, eventually catching up to hug him. The swarm of hugs turned back to the field as the Thunder played defense for the final seconds of the game.
“He stepped up and he was confident in what he had to do and put it in the back of the net,” Elliot said. “To just have a sophomore that's going to do that at the end of this game, I mean, I'll take it.”
Elliot is in his third year leading the Thunder boys soccer team. Since taking the helm, his team is undefeated against Corona del Sol. The streak hasn’t stopped any of his players from seeing the significance of the rivalry.
Desert Vista senior Jakob Pongratz said the game means "everything."
"It was basically our state championship game,” Pongratz said.
The game was also significant for Desert Vista because it was Senior Appreciation Night. Before the game, fans and teammates celebrated as seniors walked on the field accompanied by their parents. Desert Vista thanked Vincent Larente, Pongratz, Sevastian Olmos, Jonathan Munoz, Adrain Robak, Ivan Moric and Chandler Hanscrome.
Throughout the game, you could tell this was a rivalry match. Over 20 free kicks were awarded for penalties during the game.
To seal the regional championship, Desert Vista will need to defeat Queen Creek (3-7-1, 2-2) on Friday. On the same day, Corona del Sol will face Mountain Pointe (8-3, 3-1). These games will help determine whether the two teams will see each other again in the playoffs.