Dylan Slager
ASU Student Journalist

Chaparral outwits Catalina Foothills defense to win, 3-1

February 22, 2023 by Dylan Slager, Arizona State University

The Firebirds, in all black, line-up against the Falcons, who are in all white. (Photo by Dylan Slager/AZPreps365.com)

Dylan Slager is an ASU Cronkite School of Journalism student assigned to cover Chaparral High School for AZPreps 365.

The varsity Firebirds are back in the 5A soccer championship game after a stellar 3-1 win over the Falcons. The girls played with passion from the first whistle and didn’t allow themselves to get swallowed up by the defensive force of Catalina Foothills.

“You have to read the field and you have to look at the defenders' positioning,” said Firebird forward Faith Secrest when talking about how well their offense broke through.

Chaparral started off hot with the offensive pressure. They fired shot after shot towards the Falcon net but to no avail. Senior defender Eva Acker even drove from her own third of the field and drove a shot towards the goal that ricocheted off the post.

However, after another incredible run by Acker from the backfield, the Firebirds found their first break as she got tripped up in the box and Chaparral was awarded a penalty kick. Acker took the task and capped off a great play to give the Firebirds a 1-0 lead.

Both teams had early chances that fell apart due to the harsh winds that blew throughout the game.

“Knowing that wind was going to be a challenge made us step up a little bit,” said Secrest, “we knew in the first half we could try a bit more of a long ball game because our shots are going to go that much further.”

“With the wind, it was just that in the first half, we were to use it to our advantage and the second half needs to be played on the ground. Possess the ball,” said senior goalkeeper Ciara Ulreich-Power. “We’ve played in the cold before but the wind? Not so much.”

After the second half began, both teams had a better feeling about the weather and that showed on the field. Faith Secrest fired a shot past the keeper to give the Firebirds a 2-0 lead, however the Falcons were fighting just as hard. Catalina Foothills began to apply more pressure and a wild shot attempt got caught up with Firebird defender Ally Levine which resulted in a hand ball in their own 18 yard box. Levine received her red card and Catalina Foothills capitalized on the kick to bring the game to 2-1.

“As soon as the penalty and the goal happened, I knew we needed to keep our mentality,” said Ulreich-Power. “I went the right direction and that's all that could happen so I knew we needed to stay positive in the moment. We were still up 2-1 and we all still wanted to keep it that way.”

They did just that as they held the Falcons till the end of the game, but not before Firebird senior Morgan Cohan capped off the victory to cement Chaparrals spot in the 5A Conference championship title game.

“The girls played their hearts out. They did what they needed to get the win,” Coach Robyn Carlson said when talking about her team's performance. “They will be ready. It was a hard fought game but they will be ready…They will go out and give it their all in the finals.”

The 5A Conference Championship game will take place on Feb. 25 at 11:30 a.m. at Dobson High School.