Lauren Ellsworth doesn't stand still often in her athletic endeavors for Highland High School. The junior midfielder knocked home a header in the 72nd minute on Wednesday afternoon as Highland edged Chandler, 1-0, on the final day of pool play at the annual Bill Vanney-Tempe Diablos Soccer Classic at Tempe Sports Complex.
Ellsworth, a standout in cross country and track, usually is going full bore in competition. But Wednesday with the match with Chandler looking as though it would end in a 0-0 tie, Ellsworth — as stationary as she gets in any sport — solidly connected in the box on a cross from Morgan Lamb to keep Highland unbeaten in the tournament and for the season. Highland improved to 5-0 and posted its third shutout in the tourney in as many outings.
“To be honest, I didn't see the goal,” Highland coach Andy Barber said. “I was talking on the sideline when it happened. I don't think this was our best game, but it was another shutout. We're not giving up goals which is nice.”
Barber, who piloted Red Mountan's girls teams the last few years and took over as coach after John Berzins stepped aside last spring, isn't trying to tinker much with the winning ways of the program. Highland won the Division I state title in 2012 and reached the final four last year.
“You shouldn't look to make changes with the success this program has had,” Barber said. “I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel. Just adding my two cents here and there. It's nice to be winning these (tournament) matches. To me tournaments are for coaching up the players. If the wins come, then fine.”
Despite the loss Chandler (2-3) advanced to the semifinals along with Highland. Chandler finished second in the only four-team pool in the tournament and was accorded a semifinal berth oppposit Pool B champ Hamilton. Pool A champ Highland earned the top seed and takes on Pool C champ Desert Vista in the other semi. Both semifinals are Thursday at 6 p.m. at Tempe Sports Complex. The winners meet Friday Dec. 13 at 6 p.m at Tempe Sports Complex.
In boys tournament action on Wednesday, Gilbert, Chandler, Hamilton and Desert Vista claimed the semifinal berths. Gilbert knocked off Westwood, 4-1; Hamilton took care of Mountain Pointe, 4-1; Chandler shut out Corona del Sol, 3-0, and Desert Vista blanked Red Mountain, 2-0. Thursday's semifinals at 6 p.m. at Tempe Sports Complex are Gilbert vs. Chandler and Hamilton vs. Desert Vista. The winners meet on Friday Dec. 13 for the championship at 6 p.m. at Tempe Sports Complex.