PRESCOTT VALLEY — As the sun set behind nearby Glassford Hill on Tuesday, Jan. 22, a bitterly cold wind and temperatures in the 30s settled in for the second half of the Bradshaw Mountain girls soccer team’s Grand Canyon region match versus Mingus.
Knotted in a scoreless tie at halftime at Bob Pavlich Field, neither the 4A No. 20-ranked Bears nor the No. 13 Marauders seemed fazed, however. They understood that a win would help them stay afloat in a region dominated by frontrunner and No. 5 Flagstaff, and second place and No. 6 Prescott.
Five days after suffering a 4-3 upset loss to Lee Williams in double overtime, Bradshaw Mountain bounced back. Bears Hailey Denman, Marlin Gonzalez and Emily Sotelo scored a goal apiece in the second half, guiding the hosts to a key 3-1 victory over Mingus.
“We just came out [of halftime] and we knew we wanted it,” said Denman, a sophomore midfielder who’s the Bears’ leading scorer. “So, we came out with a fire. We started off from the first whistle and just came at them. We connected our passes, which we were having a problem with the last game.”
The Bears improved their record to 7-2-0 and 2-1-0 in region. Mingus lost its fourth straight match and dipped to 5-4-0 and 0-3-0.
“This is a really big win for us – we’re really proud,” said Sotelo, a freshman. “We all worked together and we cleaned up our game and we got that win.”
Added Denman, “It just shows our heart and our want to play and to keep going. We didn’t want to end on a bad game. We wanted to keep going forward. We had a bump there [against Lee Williams], obviously, and we worked it out and played hard in this game and got through it.”
Denman ended the scoreless tie with some 27 minutes left in regulation on a shot from 15 to 20 yards out that she lined into the top right shelf of the Mingus goal. Around 13 minutes later, Gonzalez, another freshman, scored when Mingus goalie Zoey Arwine got caught trying to play the ball too far in front of the net.
Down 2-0, Mingus tallied less than 2 minutes later when Felicia Bueno booted in a shot off of a free kick. Bradshaw Mountain didn’t put the game away until 3:40 remained in regulation, though. That’s when Bria Coleman fed Sotelo for a breakaway goal that sealed it.
“If we keep playing like this, we’re going to finish really strong,” Sotelo said.
Added Bears coach John Sterling, “This is the way we’re capable of playing, and we didn’t play that way last week [vs. Lee Williams]. This [win] was massive. Now they’ve got confidence. Mingus is a really good team.”
Bears co-captain Sarah Hacker left Tuesday’s match late in the second half with an apparent lower leg injury, although she is expected to be OK. Bradshaw Mountain goalie Delaney Johnson, seen hugging Hacker after the match, played inspired ball, turning away at least three well-placed Mingus shots to preserve the victory.
“It’s all because of these girls – they’re my family and they helped me keep my chill,” Johnson said. “I couldn’t do it without them.”