GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - The Grand Canyon Phantoms soccer team is often in the underdog position, facing teams from much larger schools. But, despite the David and Goliath-like match-ups, the squad has shown quality play on the field in their first nine games of the season
The Phantoms kicked off the 2011 season at the Chino Valley Tournament facing two difficult opponents right off the bat.
Head Coach Scott Hall said his team definitely didn't have a chance to ease into the season.
"We played the team that won the tourney last year and the team that took second last year right away," Hall said. "Kind of a tough tournament."
The Phantoms fell to Chino Valley 4-0 followed by a 1-0 loss to Desert Christian.
"So, that was encouraging to our players," Hall said.
In the their third game of the tourney, the Phantoms held their own against Blue Ridge with a 4-0 loss.
"Considering the size of their school and the size of our school that was a pretty good accomplishment," Hall said. "I think last year Grand Canyon lost 12 or 13 to one."
In their final game of the tournament, the Phantoms lost 1-0 to Camp Verde.
With a mix of veteran players and athletes new to the team, with four or five players in each grade level, the Phantoms will likely use this season as a building year.
The Phantoms again faced Camp Verde for their first home game of the season Sept. 9 losing 2-0.
In a 1-1 tie, the Phantoms failed to place a free kick between the goal posts, hitting the cross bar.
"That could have changed the game," Hall said.
Following the failed attempt, Camp Verde was able to score a second goal to seal the win.
Following the home game loss, the Phantoms squad hit the road, heading to the Sholo Tournament. In their first game, the Phantoms took on Immaculate Heart, ranked No. six in the power rankings, posting their first win of the season, 2-1.
Hall said solid defense kept Grand Canyon in the game.
"That was a good boost for us," Hall said. "That was our best game of the season. Immaculate Heart has a very strong offense and they don't really worry about defense too much. Their coach even said they're not used to playing against a team with a strong team defense like ours. They're used to scoring a lot of goals."
Grand Canyon kept their momentum heading into their game against Round Valley, pulling out a 1-0 win with the help of two failed Round Valley penalty kicks.
In their final two games of the tourney, the Phantoms ran out of steam, losing to tournament winner Snowflake 3-0 and falling to Sholo 2-0.
Hall said the losses come down to stamina.
"These tournaments are hard because it's four games in two days," Hall said. "The teams we're playing have like 8 to 10 subs. So, they're just subbing in and out where we, in our first tournament, only had 12 players and you play with eleven. So, by the second day we get really tired."
The Phantoms, 2-7 for the season, take on Northland Prep at home at 4 p.m. tomorrow.