By Jackie Brown
Associate Grand Canyon News Editor
In their first conference games, the Grand Canyon Phantoms varsity soccer team came out 1-1 with a 4-2 victory over Verde Valley Friday and a 5-2 loss to Chino Valley Saturday.
In both matches, Grand Canyon's co-ed team was outsized by all-boys squads but the Phantoms proved to be scrappy opponents, communicating, playing hard and keeping the pressure on.
Verde Valley, 2
In the match with Verde Valley, the Phantoms grabbed an early lead and didn't let it go. The first goal came at the sixth minute, scored by Justin Kremer with the assist by David Robinson. At the 12th minute, Kremer scored again, this time with Chris Streit on the assist. Verde Valley answered that goal two minutes later. The score was 2-1 at the half.
Kremer scored again four minutes into the third quarter with an assist from Matthew Beckerleg. Robinson netted the fourth goal at the 54th minute with an assist by Jackie Wren. Verde Valley came back with their second goal in the 69th minute but could muster no more.
"They showed a good ability to come back in the second half," said Head Coach Ken Hunter.
Chino Valley, 5
On Saturday, the Phantoms and Chino Valley played an evenly-matched game in the first half, with Chino scoring in the seventh minute, followed by Grand Canyon at the 15th on a stunning unassisted goal by Robinson. Chino Valley replied two minutes later but three minutes before the half ended, the Phantoms tied it up after goalkeeper Jesse Hunter delivered a long kick that put the ball in scoring position for Kremer.
In the second half, Chino Valley delivered three more goals, at the 49th, 75th and 77th minutes.
"They're showing a lot of promise," said Coach Hunter.
Last year, the Phantoms were the only 1A school to make it to the state playoffs, where they won their first-ever game in the finals against Phoenix Country Day School.
Much of that team is back this year, minus Miles Hunter, Kevin Beckerleg and Ryan Eck, who graduated last year and Jeff Towers, who moved away.
"We lost four starters but we had seven starters coming back," Coach Hunter said. Eight seniors (including captains Chris Streit, David Robinson, Jesse Hunter and Justin Kremer) will be leaving this year, but the younger players are showing promise.
"(Freshmen) Daniel Trenchard and Cruz Caballero played the whole game (last Friday)," Coach Hunter said. "And sophomores like Lizzy Tobin, Maria Caballero and Jessie Wren are stepping up and playing hard and well."
Cool Mountain Tourney
The weekend before last, the Phantoms got their first taste of competitive play this season at the Cool Mountain Tournament at Round Valley in Eagar, Ariz.
Round Valley, 4
They lost to Round Valley, 4-1, in their first game on Friday, Sept. 2. Round Valley put in four unanswered goals in the first half, but the Phantoms kept them from adding more in the second. The Phantoms' one goal was scored by Kremer after the half, with Streit on the assist.
That afternoon, they pulled out a 1-1 tie with Holbrook, with Kremer scoring their lone goal in the first half with an assist by Jesse Hunter. That game went on in spite of the weather.
"It was pouring down rain," said Coach Hunter. "It was a sloppy game."
St. Johns, 6
They battled to a 6-5 win in overtime in their game against St. Johns on Saturday, Sept. 3. Though they went into the second half at a 3-1 disadvantage, with an unassisted goal by Ryne Boone, they brought it back in the second. Soon after the half, St. Johns added a fourth goal, but then, said Coach Hunter, "They came back," bringing the score to 5-5 at the end of regulation play.
David Robinson scored with an assist by Jesse Hunter, then Eddie Tobin scored again with the assist by Jesse Hunter. Then Jesse Hunter scored with Robinson providing the assist and Kremer scored again with Robinson assisting.
The teams went to a penalty kick shootout in which five players from each team faced off for three penalty kicks each. When that round ended in a tie, they moved to a sudden death round, with one player and one goal keeper on each side. Eddie Tobin scored the winning goal.
The Phantoms then faced Holbrook for the second time in 24 hours, ending regulation play with a 1-1 tie. That goal was scored by Jesse Hunter with the assist by Eddie Tobin. In that round of overtime, Holbrook won the shootout.