Not long ago, senior Maury Urcadez and her teammates would have been celebrating a tie with one of Southern Arizona’s premier teams as if it were a win.
But just last week, when Tucson High’s girls soccer team tied Sahuaro 1-1, Urcadez walked off the field feeling like she and the Badgers had just suffered a loss.
It’s no longer about simply competing; it’s about winning.
Third-seeded and undefeated Tucson hosts No. 14 Phoenix Thunderbird at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the first round of the Division II state tournament. It’s the first time since their 2008-09 campaign that the Badgers are in the postseason.
“I think it’s a huge accomplishment, especially for some of us that have been playing since the start,” said Urcadez, a do-it-all player. “It’s a great experience and we have the talent to go really far; we just have to focus and not give up mentally because that could cost us.”
Urcadez, along with fellow four-year starters Yesenia Contreras, Corina Leyva and Shania Pablo have been especially important in the team’s success this season, said first-year coach David Goodkin.
“I walked in and they’ve been great; they’ve all really done outstanding,” Goodkin said. “They do everything we ask and they just give it all on the field. They play their positions and play out of position when asked to, so they’re very coachable.”
It didn’t take Goodkin long to realize he had something special: He noticed the team’s potential during the first practice when players set a goal of qualifying for the state tournament.
“I’m just very excited with what we’ve done because we’ve been working hard since we’ve been freshmen all the way up to being seniors, just having the expectation that we were going to finally make it to state,” Leyva said.
Now the Badgers have updated their goal to winning the program’s first state title, something that isn’t too far-fetched.
After all, Tucson’s boys soccer team won its first championship last season and Goodkin wanted to see his team experience the same.
“It’s not like we just go out to play; now we have a chance to go far in this tournament that we’ve never been in, so we need to make a statement here,” Pablo said. “We’re here, so what can we do with it?”
The draw with Sahuaro last week was no fluke: Tucson opened the regular season with a scoreless tie against Catalina Foothills, a team that has reached the state finals in each of the past five years. Then the Badgers won 10 straight matches, knocking off playoff teams Palo Verde, Pueblo and Salpointe Catholic along the way.
“It’s been a lot of hard work and patience to help us get where we’re at now,” Contreras said. “It just feels good that it’s all paying off.”