On Saturday, the Salpointe Catholic boys soccer team claimed the Chris Maier Invitational championship for the third consecutive year.
But there was something different about the 3-2 win over Canyon del Oro in the title game. This time, the Lancers not only had to battle the Dorados, but also had to play in drizzling rain and 40-degree temperatures on a muddy field at Sabino High School.
"I'm very proud of our guys. This year was particularly tough because of the weather and the field conditions were really challenging," Salpointe coach Wolfgang Weber said.
The sodden field came into play in the 10th minute when the Lancers' T.J. Hope had an opportunity to score, but slipped while attacking the goal.
"We were slipping and you had to really calculate where you want to play the ball so you don't slip, but we worked through it," said Lancers midfielder Arturo Vega.
Hope would not be affected by the inclement weather the second time around as he gave Salpointe (16-2-1) a 1-0 advantage in the 20th minute.
The senior midfielder and Most Valuable Player of the tournament struck again in the 52nd minute, rolling a ball past keeper Josh King into the net for a 2-0 lead.
"I thought that T.J. did a great job up front even when we did a lot of defending to always make us relevant and be dangerous for the counter attack," said Weber.
Four minutes after Hope's goal, Grant Finch put the Dorados on the scoreboard with an unassisted goal.
Alex Flores increased the Lancers lead to 3-1 in the 64th minute by scoring in traffic. Aaron Elledge responded a minute later with a score from just outside the box to bring the Dorados within one.
CDO (7-4-2) had plenty of opportunities to tie the game in the final five minutes, but was unable to convert on its corner kicks.
"It was a very intense game at the end there," said Salpointe goalkeeper Taylor Anderson. "Our defensive line was playing real good and holding strong. We were just trying to clear the ball as far as we could."
The Lancers reached the final after defeating Rincon/University 2-1 in overtime earlier Saturday.
"In the semifinals we were definitely getting tired and then you add in the conditions, it makes it really challenging," Weber said. "I'm really pleased that we won in the semifinal and then again in the final. We withstood everything."
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