PHOENIX — After their play-in round win over Chandler Basha, Maricopa head girl’s soccer coach Courtney Kellenaers said his team “accomplished their goal,” advancing to the first-round of 6A Conference playoffs.
Unfortunately, the stellar season for the Rams ran out of steam, as Maricopa fell to Phoenix Pinnacle 6-0, ending the Rams’ chances of a 6A title.
Maricopa found itself in trouble early on in the contest, giving up two goals within the first three minutes.
The Pioneers dominated the time of possession from the opening kick and never relented, constantly getting to the Rams’ side of the field and putting up multiple shots on goal.
Maricopa senior goalkeeper Alyssa DeMascio had her work cut out for her in the first-round game, having to consistently be on her toes and send shots back. While Demascio put in a gutsy performance close to the net, it was a case of a strong team using their skills effectively.
“Being a goalkeeper is tough, you are always the last line of defense and it always feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, (DeMascio) puts that weight on just as much as anybody else,” Kellenaers said about his senior goalkeeper.
“The message with her is always the same, there are 10 other people that that ball is going to get past, and you can’t do everything. We are proud of her, she knows we are proud of her, she’s just going to beat herself up for a couple of days and move on.”
In total, the Pioneers were able to get the ball into the net four times in just the first half, putting the Rams in a tough position going into the second half.
Despite some added intensity and urgency to put a goal on the scoreboard, the Pioneers proved to be a tough task, using a style of play the Rams normally don’t see from their region opponents.
“We knew that they played a 4-3-3 formation, we knew that they liked to play on the wings, we knew that they love to get to that inline and cross it to their near post,” Kellenaers said. “In training, it’s hard for us to replicate that. We didn’t face a single opponent that does those things, so it’s hard, especially with it being brand new.”
As seconds ticked off the clock, two more Pioneer goals sealed the Rams’ fate, as they watched their season come to an end.
Despite the result, Kellenaers said that he was proud of the team for accomplishing its goal of making it to the playoffs, saying the team fought hard all season.
“This is where they wanted to get, some of them wanted to get past this round, but we are very realistic,” he said. “For the returners next year, the question becomes how do we rebuild and fill the spots that we are losing in order to stay competitive next year?”
With 12 seniors that won’t be on the roster next year, the team will set its sights on retooling the roster and achieving more of their goals in the new season next winter.
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