Michael Burgess
ASU Student Journalist

Sunrise Mountain upsets top-seed Campo Verde in penalty shootout

February 19, 2022 by Michael Burgess, Arizona State University

Senior goalkeeper Aliya Garrett (middle with fist up) leads her team in hype up chants during overtime break of Sunrise Mountain's state semifinal upset of top-seed and defending champion Campo Verde. (Photo by Michael Burgess II)

Michael Burgess II is an ASU Cronkite School of Journalism student assigned to cover high school sports for AZPreps365.com

PHOENIX—Sunrise Mountain girls soccer advanced to its first 5A state championship game in program history on Saturday, as the Mustangs upset top-seed and defending 5A state champion Campo Verde, winning 3-1 on penalty kicks.

The game, played at Central High School, was a dicey affair, with both sides getting good looks at goal throughout the match. However, through 80 minutes of regular time and 20 minutes of extra time, the game remained scoreless and was sent to penalty kicks.

Senior goalkeeper Aliya Garrett came up huge for the Mustangs, saving two of Campo Verde’s four penalty kicks during the shootout.

“That’s my bread and butter,” Garrett said. “I love it. There’s no pressure on the keeper. As the striker, if you can’t score on an open net right outside the six-yard box, why are you shooting it? There’s really no pressure on me. I’m just there to make something happen.”

With a chance to extend the shootout, Campo Verde midfielder Graci Briseno missed her penalty wide left, sealing the win for the Mustangs and sending Sunrise Mountain’s players, coaches and fans into a frenzy as they stormed the field.

“For me, it still hasn’t sunk in yet,” Sunrise Mountain head coach Sean Fallon said. “I’m super excited. More than anything, I’m super excited for the girls because they worked so hard. To have them be able to have an opportunity to compete for the state championship, I’m excited.”

Throughout the game, Campo Verde kept steady offensive pressure on Sunrise Mountain, forcing the Mustangs' defense into some tough situations.

“We were trying to get behind the backline by playing some diagonal passes,” Campo Verde head coach Andrew Guarneri said. “We were trying to spread it out at the front. We got in a few times but couldn’t find the back of the net. Their keeper made a couple of really big saves.”

As the game progressed past regular time and through extra time, Garrett was keeping her team fired up. She hopped up and down and delivered motivational speeches, trying to galvanize Sunrise Mountain through the fatigue to victory.

“It’s all about heart and energy at that point,” Garrett said. “When you’re the 12th seed going up against the top seed and defending state champions, you’re just ready to play your heart out. If we lose, we lose to the best. But if we win, we win big.”

These two teams played back on Jan. 12, with the Coyotes coming away with a 2-0 victory. Despite the loss, Fallon said that that experience was crucial to helping his team get the win.

“Having been able to play them earlier in the year and knowing we can hang with them was helpful,” Fallon said. “We know that the way we go about our business isn’t ever going to change depending on who we play. We’re just going to go and do the things that we need to do and play at the level we need to.”

Continuing their improbable run to the 5A state finals, No. 12 Sunrise Mountain is now the lowest seed to compete in the state championship match since conference/region realignment in the 2016-17 season.

Sunrise Mountain will face the No. 2 Casteel Colts, who lost in the 5A state championship last year, at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Central High School.

These two schools haven’t played each other since 2019, with the Mustangs suffering a tough 3-2 home defeat.

However, at this point, nobody on Sunrise Mountain views herself as an underdog.

“We’re winners all the way,” Garrett said. “If people underestimate us, they’re not ready for us.”