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Trivium Prep comes up short
Submitted by Casey Pritchard on Wed, 02/15/2017 - 12:00am
Lady Crimson Knights lose 2-0 to Fountain Hills
Trivium Prep's title run came up a little shy of the ultimate goal Feb. 11, as it lost 2-0 to Fountain Hills in the 3A state championship game at Williams Field High School in Gilbert.
No. 3 Trivium's defense couldn't thwart top-seeded Fountain Hills' talented striker Erica Yost, who scored both goals for the Lady Falcons. They were her 53rd and 54th of the season.
“They left it on the field, that's all you can ask,” Trivium coach Don Radford said of his team. “We put our stars on their stars and they got a couple goals. What can we do? We fought back as hard as we could, just didn't come out on the right end of the score.”
Trivium had beaten Gilbert Christian 2-1 the night before in the semifinals. Gilbert Christian coach Jay Feely told Radford the key to beating Fountain Hills was stopping Yost, but that was easier said than done.
“He told us if you can stop her and make somebody else beat you, you have a chance,” Radford said. “That was a tall task. We tried, but she was hard to stop. I think we were probably the best defense in the state, and they got two goals on us.
“If we could have got a goal, I think our legs would have got back under us a little bit, but we never gave a really hard challenge. They were fast. Our strikers never had a chance to really set and shoot, and I've got to give them credit for that. They put together a great team.”
Yost didn't take long to put Fountain Hills on top. She used incredible skill to move through the middle of the field, then shot from just above the top of the 18-yard box with a left-footed strike that found the top right corner of the goal. That gave Fountain Hills the lead just 4 minutes, 50 seconds into the contest.
Trailing was unfamiliar territory for Trivium, who lost only one game all season heading into the state championship. That loss came against Mesa Dobson, a 6A school, during a tournament game. Dobson scored with six seconds left in regulation.
“We were behind for a whole six seconds, and that was the only time we were behind all season,” Radford said. “You always wonder how your team is going to react to that, but they did fine. The Falcons brought a great team. When you play a great team, you do your best.”
Yost scored again early in the second half. This time, it came on a bad giveaway by the Trivium defense, and when Yost got in deep on a breakaway, she didn't make a mistake. Trivium sweeper Anna Rosztoczy praised Yost for her ability, but also said it was fun to battle against such a fierce competitor.
“I've definitely got to hand it off to her, she was by far the best player that we've faced this entire season, and it was an honor for me,” Rosztoczy said. “Those are the battles that I wait for. We've had a lot of easier games this year and the back line didn't get much work, but today she put us to the test and I think we held her pretty well.”
The problem for Trivium was Yost didn't need much space, and when she got it, she made the Lady Crimson Knights pay.
“It's hard to cover her,” Radford said. “At halftime, I told Anna, 'You had your hands full.' Her response to me was, 'Yes, but it was fun.' What more can you ask for in high school soccer, they were having fun, loving it. Our star was having fun. She came out to play. We wanted to play the best, and we did. I think we gave them a game.”
The biggest difference in the game was Fountain Hills' speed. The Lady Falcons beat Trivium to most 50-50 balls, making it difficult for the Lady Crimson Knights to mount much of an attack.
“That's one thing that hasn't happened to us too much this year, is teams were faster than us, but they were faster and it gave us trouble,” Radford said. “We knew it would, we scouted them. We knew we had to hit some shots. We started off OK, but then we got rattled a little bit and never got back into our offensive game.”
The day before playing Fountain Hills, Trivium reached the finals by beating Gilbert Christian in the semis.
The game was scoreless through the first half, but Trivium wasted little time getting on the board in the second half. Just seven minutes, 18 seconds into the second half, Lauren McGuire launched a shot from 35 yards away that tipped off the goalkeeper's hands and into the top right corner of the net, giving the Lady Crimson Knights a 1-0 advantage.
“Coach said push up, I go up there, quick touch and just hit it, lucky shot,” McGuire said. “I was looking for top corner and it landed there. It went my way tonight.”
Radford said the strategy was to try for long shots if the Lady Crimson Knights couldn't get anything going up close.
“She is our big goal hitter from distance, and we knew if we weren't having success with our crosses – and that's been our bread and butter for two years, crossing and hitting back door – and if that's not being successful, pass it back out and hit big shots,” Radford said. “Lauren is our big shot. She hit a big shot against Glendale Prep that won the region in overtime. Almost an identical shot.”
After going ahead 1-0, Trivium scored again 12 minutes later. Paula Rosztoczy scored on a hard, low shot to the left corner of the net.
“It was a cross, the defender had a bad touch, so I set it up perfectly, took a touch, I saw the low corner and I knew low corners are the best because that's what I've been taught by my wonderful coaches, so that's where I decided to go,” Paula said.
Gilbert Christian responded four minutes later, cutting the deficit to 2-1, but it couldn't find an equalizer the rest of the way. Part of the reason was great goalkeeping by Tori Gutierrez. She made a crucial diving save in the first half, and also punched a bouncing ball away from danger in the penalty area.
“I was just making sure my angles were good and it just happened in the moment,” Gutierrez said of the diving stop.
While Trivium's loss in the championship was heartbreaking, the Lady Crimson Knights could be back in the same game next year. Only three of the team's 20 rostered players were seniors, and only one started. That was Anna Rosztoczy.
“This has been a continuation of five years of hard work and so much fun, and these girls mean the world to me,” Anna said. “We went from a season with maybe two wins to now runner up in the state championship, and that is phenomenal. The chemistry of this team, we play for each other. We may not have been the fastest, may not have been the strongest, but we had the biggest hearts, and that's what brought us so far. I couldn't ask for a better way to finish off the season, and it's been an honor to lead these girls.”
Despite the championship loss, in which Radford praised Fountain Hills for their strong play, he was upbeat about how his girls performed.
“We talked all week that all they were required to do was their best, and I think they did that,” Radford said. “We threw every kind of combination we could at them, we brought everybody forward. You always want your team to leave it on the field, especially in a championship game, and I think they did. I don't think there's anything else we could have asked of them, and that's what I told them.
“We have three graduating seniors, one is a starter. The heart and soul of this team is freshmen and sophomores, so we'll be back.”
Casey Pritchard can be reached at email@example.com
or on Twitter @CaseyonSports.
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