CASA GRANDE — The chances of qualifying for postseason play for the first time since 2008 became somewhat dicier for the Casa Grande Union boys soccer team.
The No. 19 Cougars have just one regular season match remaining following Thursday night’s 4-1 4A Kino region loss to No. 20 Tucson Catalina Foothills at Al Van Hazel Stadium. They play at No. 13 Tucson Sahuaro on Tuesday, and the outcome ultimately could determine whether CG Union is in or out.
“We just need to play hard and hope we make it,” CG Union coach Marco Fonseca said.
The Feb. 13 conference play-in round will consist of 16 teams seeded No. 9-24. And because it’s possible the Southwest region champion will be an automatic qualifier as the No. 16 seed even without being ranked in the top 24, that would mean no postseason for the team that finishes in the No. 24 spot.
The Cougars once held the No. 8 ranking but have struggled of late. They have lost three straight and four of their last five. Prior to Thursday night’s setback, CG Union fell 4-0 to Nogales (ranked No. 8 in 5A), 3-1 to Douglas and 8-0 to Tucson Salpointe Catholic. Douglas is No. 1 in 4A and Salpointe is No. 2.
Catalina Foothills (8-5-2, 3-0 4A Kino) led 2-0 at halftime on a pair of goals by Dylan McCartney. The Cougars (8-6-0, 2-2) avoided being shut out when Ian D’Santiago scored off a rebound in the 70th minute.
“This was a rough one,” Fonseca said. “We were careless, we made mistakes and (the Catalina Foothills) kids took advantage.”
Falcons goaltender Ty Pham-Swann stopped four shots. The Cougars finished with 10, including an attempt by Juan Pablo Solorzano that struck the crossbar in the waning seconds, a header that missed by inches outside the left post following Joseph Garcia’s corner kick in the 24th minute and Garcia’s bullet in the 41st. D’Santiago’s score came after Pham-Swann made a save on Solorzano’s close-range shot.
However, the Cougars failed to generate opportunities on the offensive end for the most part.
“We were off our game,” Fonseca said. “We were just kind of standing around and not being aggressive.”
McCartney scored in the 17th and 29th minutes for Catalina Foothills, which had 11 shots.
“After they got that first goal our self-esteem seemed to drop,” Fonseca said. “When that happens you don’t play like you’re supposed to play.”
Zack Krautz gave the Falcons a 3-0 lead with his goal in the 53rd minute, and Diego Carrasco scored on a direct kick in the 65th.
CG Union keeper Gil Mendoza made three saves.