Ethan Troll
ASU Student Journalist

Desert Edge girls soccer secures play-in win in comeback fashion

February 8, 2024 by Ethan Troll, Arizona State University

Desert Edge girls varsity soccer having a celebratory huddle after the game. (Ethan Troll/

Ethan Troll is an ASU Cronkite School of Journalism student assigned to cover Desert Edge high school for

It’s always great to see a comeback.

The Desert Edge Scorpions’ girls’ varsity soccer team earned a great win on Thursday night, coming from behind and ripping away the match from the Youngker Rough Riders, 4-2.

Desert Edge went into this game finishing with a 16-4 record in the regular season, the best record for the program in girls’ soccer since 2006.  The Scorpions ended their regular season with a win and have now extended their win streak to two with Thursday night’s victory.

Coaches Malissa and Robert Iler were very proud of their girls for fighting until the time hit zero and made the right adjustments going into the second quarter.

“In the first half, we were playing nervous and scared and not confident with keeping the ball at our feet,” Malissa said. “So in the second half, the whole halftime speech was ‘play our style of soccer. Play calm, play simple, play to the feet, and good things will happen’ and they absolutely listened to that. We got an early goal in the second half by playing two feet.”

Even with the strong outcome that Desert Edge put up, both coaches still want their squad to stay focused on some little things to clean up.

“It’s the simple soccer things,” Malissa said. “Just be calm with the ball, don’t panic and continue to hit our striker’s feet.”

The first half went in the right direction for Desert Edge right off the bat with its leading scorer, Valerie Llamas, scoring the first goal within the first few minutes of the game. Then, after that, it seemed like the momentum got taken away from Desert Edge with Youngker playing great defense after giving up the first goal, not allowing another goal throughout the half. Youngker proceeded to score two incredible goals before the end of the half, leading 2-1.

Going into the second half, Desert Edge started off slow until Youngker goalie Brooklyn LaBar let a what seemed to be an easy save slip right through her hands, rolling into her net to give Desert Edge the tie at 2-2. From there on, it was all the Scorpions letting their poison sink into Youngker's skin.

Desert Edge put up an amazing amount of pressure against Youngker's unit defensively and offensively. It did not allow a single goal for the rest of the game and scored three unanswered goals, giving it a 4-2 turnaround win to get them to the next round of the playoffs.

Llamas, as previously mentioned, also scored two of the three second half goals for Desert Edge, giving her a total of three goals for the game.

“I like to be humble when I play,” Llamas said. “God gave me the talent and I just strive to win. This meant a lot to me because it’s my senior year and I want to move on forward to maybe going to state.”

This was a great performance by Llamas overall, but she knows that this is only the beginning of their playoff journey.

“I think we really need to just stay positive and really tune into the game,” Llamas said. “We can’t play scared, you know, because that creates sloppiness and just being focused and locked in. At the end of the day, we worked our butts off.”

Desert Edge will be having its next playoff matchup on Feb. 14 at 6 p.m.