Hamilton boys soccer coach Nick Markette looks to his seniors for leadership and each year and that usually plays out the week of the Bill Vanney/Tempe Diablos Classic.
That didn't change Friday night as the Hamilton won the boys title for the third time in four years with a 2-0 victory over Chandler at Tempe Sports Complex.
Hamilton (8-0 overall, 5-0 in the tournament where it outscored opponents 14-1) received goals from the same duo that produced them in Thursday's 2-0 semifinal win over Desert Vista — seniors Connor Follet and Gabe Para-Munoz. On Friday night it was Follet's header off a cross from senior Andrew Holland that gave Hamilton a 1-0 lead in the15th minute. Para-Munoz tallied on a scramble in the box about midway through the second half.
“This is the time of year I like to see our seniors make it their team, take responsibility for it,” Markette said. “These kids come together from their separate club teams and you like to see them meld. It think that happened this week. This is the fourth time these kids who are seniors have been in the championship of this tournament and they've won three. I think tonight the senior know this is truly their team.”
Chandler, under coach Sasha Hunter, suffered its first loss after opening with six wins. Chandler gave up just one goal in its first four tournament matches. The Wolves had a several chances to score, but couldn't find the back of the net against their Arizona Avenue rivals. Hamilton surrendered one goal in its five matches.
This was a tough match,” Markette said. “They have fight and played with pride. They have beccome a top-five program in my opinion. We play them again on Tuesday (Dec. 17). I feel like the way we've begun the season we've imprinted the style we want to play.”
In the girls title match, Highland used a long-range goal from Carley Cope midway through the first half to turn back Hamilton,1-0.
HIghland remained unbeaten in the debut season of coach Andy Barber, who came over after several years as head coach at Red Mountain. Cope scored from about 30 yards out, gathering in a rebound out front off a corner kick. As much as Hamilton wanted to pressure the second half to even the score, Highland was equally diligent in limiting scoring chances. Highland got the better of possession in the second half, exactly what Barber was looking for.
“Carley made a good shot, although its one that a team isn't usually going to make,” Barber said. “It's kind of a shame it was decided on that, but we got that opportunity from working hard to get the corner.””
“As the week wore on I gave them more pieces and whenever I did they did exactly what I asked,” Barber said.
Highland ((6-0) didn't bury its opposition during the week. The Lady Hawks won four oftheir five matches by one goal, including three by scores of 1-0. They also found themselves trailing for the first time all year in their 2-1 semifinal win over Desert Vista and managed to rally for that triumph — albeit very late. Hamilton (6-1-1) strung together three consecutive shutouts after opening the tournament with a 2-2 tie.