SAN TAN VALLEY — Despite getting shut out at home in a top 10 match with a potential playoff opponent, the Poston Butte girls soccer team proved to itself that it can hang with the best in the state and that last year’s playoff appearance was not a fluke.
Tuesday’s 5-0 loss to No. 2 Phoenix Arcadia gave the No. 6 Broncos a taste of what to expect come playoff time.
“They’re bigger, they’re taller, they’re faster and they’re No. 2 in the state,” Poston Butte coach Dean Sale said. “It’s a good learning experience for us, and I felt that we stayed in the game, we just got our heads down in the second half after they scored that other goal.”
The Broncos were without their second-leading scorer, midfielder Celeste De La Rosa, due to a hairline fracture. It was also the first game back for Rianna Zillmer, who had a back injury.
“We will do better when we get Celeste back and we’ve got our midfield back together,” Sale said. “Rianna is back and healthy, that was her first time back on the field in two weeks. So, it’s just getting her back on the field and getting her back in shape and getting her touches.”
Senior goalkeeper Jenny Alvillar made a skillful save with 32 minutes left in the first half that kept Arcadia off the board on a corner kick.
The Titans eventually got on the scoreboard with 24 minutes left after an error by the Poston Butte back line resulted in an own-goal.
The Broncos nearly racked up a goal of their own, as Nicole Touhey sent a laser that continued sailing upwards and barely missed top corner of the goal.
At the half, the Broncos trailed Arcadia 2-0 after Brooke Leber scored with 18 minutes remaining.
Poston Butte began the second half with more possession time in Titans territory, but a header by Kate Moran off a corner kick sucked the wind out of the Broncos’ sails.
“We did a lot of good things,” Sale said. “We have a lot of young players; tonight we started three sophomores playing midfield, and for them to get the experience against a good quality team is a great learning experience. For us to be able to play against a fast, quality team, they saw we could play with them, and they did really good in the first half. They just can’t get down on themselves.”
Arcadia’s Peyton Grubb seemed to have extended the Titans lead with 17 minutes left in the game with a goal on a empty net, but it was called off, as one of her teammates was called for a foul that knocked Alvillar to the ground away from the goal on the previous play.
Up next for Poston Butte is another playoff contender, Chandler Seton Catholic, on Friday. Sale said his team will match up better against the Sentinels because they are not as fast or as tall as the Titans.
“I think we match up pretty well,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a really tough match up and we’re not taking anything away, with that game on Friday and it’s senior night; I’m hoping the girls are going to be hyped up and ready to play. They’re a good team, they’ve always been a good team, and I’ve never beat them.”