TUCSON — The St. Johns Redskins girls soccer team won their second straight state title with a 1-0 victory against the Camp Verde Cowgirls, fittingly at Morris K. Udall Park, on November 9, 2002.
St. Johns won all its games in the 2002 state tournament with its stingy defense, spearheaded by senior goalkeeper Shelley Haws, that shut out all three opponents.
The Redskins won their first-round game Nov. 2 against St. Gregory 3-0, then advanced to the finals with a 2-0 win against Blue Ridge in the semifinals last Friday.
That set up a rematch with Camp Verde, which won the first-ever Girls Fall Soccer Championship in 2000 and finished as runners-up to St. Johns in 2001. The Redskins had lost two previous meetings with Camp Verde during the 2002 season, which may have made the Cowgirls over-confident.
St. Johns used its overall team speed to beat the equally skilled but more physical Cowgirls to the ball. The Redskins outshot the Cowgirls with 18 shots on goal, compared to 10 for Camp Verde.
St. Johns scored the winning goal about 18 minutes into the first half when Nicolette Trickey put the ball in the net after a cross from Jenny Brown, who got the assist.
After that, the Redskins relied on clutch saves by Haws to thwart the few Camp Verde shots that got through the defense.
“Everything was happening so fast, it was pure reaction,” Haws said. “This is undescribable. Our team played very well and did an awesome job.”
“We didn’t let (Camp Verde’s) bad talking get to us,” said senior midfielder Jacquelyn Trickey. “They came in way too cocky. We were probably more scared — nervous as always.”
“They were positively nervous, and scoring that first goal really enforced the fact that we were going to win,” said St. Johns head coach Randy Lussier. “After that, we shifted into a defensive formation. We knew we were pretty tired and we wanted more bodies out there.
“One thing that motivated us was that we felt a lack of respect from Camp Verde. They were trash talking. We’ve faced them three times (in 2002), and this is the only time we’ve beaten them. We lost to them in tournaments twice. We made it a point the last time that if we faced them again, the outcome would not be the same,” Lussier said.
“One of the big factors in the outcome of our game with Camp Verde was the superb play of our defense. Our players, Shondra Moter, Brittney Platt, Suzanne Swafford and Porshia Johnson did a great job. Our keeper, Shelley Haws, played well all day and our senior midfielder, Jodi Mineer, kept Camp Verde’s offensive threat, Chantel Reimer (a senior who was key in the Cowgirls’ state title run in 2000), from seeing the ball most of the day. I also felt that St. Johns dominated the midfield play with Jodi and Felisha Mineer and Kamarie Lee. The Lady Redskins’ play was fueled by the fact we hadn’t played well against Camp Verde in two previous meetings and more importantly, Camp Verde’s apparent lack of respect from last year’s championship game won by St. Johns.
“Our kids just played with more desire. We controlled most of the field. We controlled Reimer. Our goalie made nice stops, especially late in the game. even with our rotation — girls that played a lot of minutes kept going,” Lussier said.
“It was a game that mattered, who wanted it most. We wanted it most,” said senior defenseman Shondra Moter. “We came out there like dynamite and didn’t give up. I’m a senior and this is the only thing I’ve wanted. Especially (winning) against Camp Verde — they are our biggest rivals.”
Camp Verde advanced to the 2002 finals after defeating Snowflake 2-0 in the first round. That was followed by a 1-0 victory against Payson.
In other first-round games, Blue Ridge defeated Sedona 1-0, and Payson topped Chino Valley 1-0 to advance to the semifinals.
St. Johns players named to the All-Tournament Team were Nicolette Trickey, Jodi Mineer, Haws and Moter. Camp Verde’s Michelle Toogood, Colleen McCabe, Tiffany Matthews and Reimer also earned all-tourney honors. Other players named to the All-Tournament team included Saundra Turoso and Amy Gardner of Blue Ridge, and Payson’s Trista Carlton and Amy Willcox.
St. Johns’ 2002 championship was one of three for head coach Lussier. Following back-to-back state titles in 2001 and 2002, the Redskins advanced to the final match in 2006 and lost 4-3 in overtime to Sedona Red Rock, which had also won the title in 2005.
St. Johns notched a third AIA Girls Fall Soccer title in 2010 after a 3-2 win over Robyn Cruze’s Show Low Cougars in a final that went to penalty kicks after regulation ended in a 2-2 tie.
Lussier also guided St. Johns girls to the 2011 final, where Show Low, coached by Robyn Garvin, defeated the Redskins 1-0, for the Cougars’ only state title. It is the last time St. Johns made a title-game appearance.
The Blue Ridge girls won five state championships in six title-match appearances between 2003 and 2009 under head coach Russ Evans. Rhonda Rydberg coached the Yellow Jackets to four straight championships from 2012-2015, making Blue Ridge the leader in Girls Fall Soccer championships with nine.
But St. Johns’ three state titles ties the Redskins for second best in history, as only recently Flagstaff Northland Prep matched the number after winning a third straight state championship in 2019.