The No. 1 in state Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets, having gone unbeaten in their season so far, improved to 17-0 after the Old Pueblo Tournament, where they faced the No. 2 Chino Valley Cougars.
The two most-winningest teams in Fall Soccer history have developed quite the rivalry over the years and have a tradition of meeting in the annual Tucson tournament.
It was the Yellow Jackets who came out victorious in this year’s matchup with senior Kadan Brimhall’s strike making the difference after beating his man in a one-vs.-one, with the BR senior then calmly slotting into the bottom left. The goal for the Jackets proved to be all they needed. Brimhall was able to take advantage of the incredible amount of attention that Chino Valley team paid to fellow senior Tommy Pederson.
Pederson, who finished second in the national rankings last year with 69 goals scored, came into the tournament with 31 so far on the season. This type of notoriety took a lot of attention away from the rest of Blue Ridge’s attack, enough so for Brimhall to capitalize. Brimhall and Pederson finished the weekend with 28 and 37 on the season, respectively.
The Jacket defense did a fantastic job holding off Chino Valley standout Angel Sanchez. Sanchez had a couple of chances to equalize but the defense held strong, led by Captains Riggs Wengert, Isaiah Pelagio, fellow senior Josh Miles, sophomore Alberto Diaz, and rounding off the strong defense, junior goalkeeper Andy Plath, who made some important stops down the line.
The Jacket defense was able to keep a shutout, or a clean sheet as its more commonly known in the sport, not only against Chino Valley but throughout the entire tournament. That is something that the defensive group had set their sights on after conceding regularly earlier on in the season.
On the other side of the field, the offense for the Jackets finished the tournament with a total of 23 goals scored. Led by Pederson and Brimhall, juniors Gustavo Cuiriz, Michael Littleman, Gerardo “Frankie” Ruvalcaba, and sophomore Cesar Bonilla added with goals and assists from the midfield.
No. 4 Snowflake also attended the Tucson tournament and kicked off their weekend by playing Chino to a 1-0 defeat. The Lobos must feel that finishing their chances they could win, being so close in the end. With the loss by one goal, the Lobos are showing signs of improvement after a 2-0 loss to Chino in last year’s playoffs.
The 1-0 loss was the only match the Lobos lost this weekend. Snowflake won 5-1 against Benson, 4-0 against Desert Christian, and 8-0 against Patagonia Union Lobos.
Only allowing two goals overall in the tournament is something that the Lobos will be proud of. Senior captain standout Ian Brubaker has played four years on varsity and has a good command of the field. He also helped out the offense by chipping in 2 of their 17 goals. The Lobos were able to keep a fresh squad by bringing and using all 22 players, being two deep in every position; a smart play when playing four games in less than 48 hours.
Old Pueblo Tournament
At Udall Park, Tucson
Friday, Oct. 4
Tucson Desert Christian 3, St. Johns 2
Chino Valley 1, Snowflake 0
Patagonia 4, Ash Fork/Seligman 1
Benson 1, Holbrook 1
Blue Ridge 9, Page 0
Bisbee 3, Willcox 0
Snowflake 5, Benson 1
Chino Valley 9, Holbrook 0
St. Johns 6, Patagonia 0
Ash Fork/Seligman 0, Desert Christian 0
Bisbee 6, Page 1
Blue Ridge 6, Willcox 0
Saturday, Oct. 5
Snowflake 4, Desert Christian 0
St. Johns 4, Page 1
Blue Ridge 1, Chino Valley 0
Willcox 3, Ash Fork/Seligman 0
Bisbee 2, Benson 1
Desert Christian 3, Holbrook 1
Page 2, Ash Fork/Seligman 1
Snowflake 8, Patagonia 0
St. Johns 2, Willcox 2
Chino Valley 3, Bisbee 1
Blue Ridge 7, Benson 0