Morenci hosts No. 11 Thatcher for a regional soccer match Monday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Clinton Sipes Jr. (88) awaits the ball coming to the goal area. The senior goalkeeper is one of three playing the position for the Wildcats. Morenci hosts Thatcher on Monday, Jan. 23.

Bulldogs shutout Wildcats in Safford

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – Morenci hosts No. 11 Thatcher for a Southeast Region soccer match Monday, Jan, 23.

Other matches this week include Safford at Palo Verde Magnet and Tombstone at Empire on Jan. 23; Thatcher at Safford on Tuesday, Jan. 24; Andrada Polytechnic at Safford, Empire at Palo Verde Magnet, and Thatcher at Tombstone on Wednesday, Jan. 25; Surprise Highland Prep at Andrada Polytechnic on Thursday, Jan. 26; and Safford at Sabino on Friday, Jan. 27.

Thatcher Eagles

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Quinton Wiltbank (9) tries to establish position during a corner kick versus Globe junior Carter Pollock (16).

The 11-4 Eagles have wins of 1-0 over Douglas (Nov. 30), 4-1 over Casa Grande Vista Grande (Dec. 2), 2-0 over Kingman Lee Williams (Dec. 2), 5-1 over Parker (Dec. 29), 1-0 over Waddell Canyon View (Dec. 30), 7-0 over Tucson Sabino (Dec. 6), 31 over Coolidge (Dec. 16), 41 over Chandler Prep (Jan. 13), 31 over Tucson Empire (Jan. 19), and 3-1 over Tucson Palo Verde Magnet (Jan. 20).

The losses are 2-4 to Chandler Valley Christian (Dec. 3), 0-5 to Buckeye Odyssey Institute (Dec. 29), 0-2 to Phoenix NFL Yet (Dec. 30), 4-5 to Sahuarita (Jan. 9),

Thatcher lists four seniors, nine juniors, nine sophomores, and one freshman on its roster. The team includes seniors Ayden Bingham, Sam Dodge, Koye Ferris, and Payson Wright; juniors Mason Cluff, Gene Huish, Blake Kartchner, Mason Mangum, Laethan Nelson, Brigham Nielson, Gavin Rodgers, Ben Schwallier, and Jake Scott; sophomores Kody Bingham, Will Chidester, Crew Ferris, Blake French, Jett Howard, Patrick Nicholas, Brasen Penrod, Cade Winkler, and Callum Winkler; and freshman Luke Marble.

Morenci Wildcats

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Keaton Jasso (16) positions the ball for a penalty kick against Globe. The Morenci junior scored the go-ahead goal in the 50th minute, breaking a 1-1 halftime tie.

The 3-9-1 Wildcats were shut out by the Safford Bulldogs in a Jan. 20 change of venue pairing, after winning two of three previous matches.

Morenci opened the new year with a 6-1 home win over the Globe Tigers (Jan. 5), fell 0-5 to the Empire Ravens in Tucson, and downed the Yellow Jackets 2-0 in Tombstone (Jan. 11).

During three previous 2023 seeding matches, the Wildcats were outscored 6-4. Morenci left Globe with a 2-2 overtime tie (Nov. 30) and fell to both to Tombstone 0-1 (Dec. 2) and to Tucson San Miguel Catholic  2-3 in overtime (Dec. 8).

The Wildcats were outscored 17-0 on the field in three matches played during the 3-day Mesa-held Brohdie Larson Classic. Morenci’s goal had been to win some matches at the meet. Instead, East Region Queen Creek San Tan Foothills prevailed 7-0 (Dec. 28), East Region Florence won 5-0 (Dec. 29), and Southwest Region Tonopah Valley won 5-0 (Dec. 29). The match with Northwest Region Mohave Valley River Valley was forfeited (Dec. 30).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Anthony Ballesteros (6) heads down field against Globe. The Morenci junior scored a third goal in the 56th minute.

The rained-out Jan. 17 match with Andrada Polytechnic in Tucson has yet to be rescheduled. The Jan. 25 home match with Coolidge is a non-region pairing and the Tucson Palo Verde Magnet Jan. 31 pairing is a region contest.

Morenci returned 11 one-year letter winners in seniors Josh Biggs, Matteo Ciriello, Brady Hooper, Tyler Lewis, Aaron Merz, and Quinton Wiltbank; juniors Anthony Ballesteros and Keaton Jasso; and sophomores Nolyn Adams, Bryant Figueroa, and Jossue Vaca Jr.

Non-letter winners returning with experience were Tristan Burke, Kathy Lara, and Clinton Sipes Jr.

Newcomers, senior Andrew Castillo; junior Gabe Clancy and Andrea Dorame; sophomore Jose Armado Torres; and freshmen Mia Avila, Max Clancy, Leighton Colvin, Roselyn Dorrell, Emily Lewis, Sammy Kitcheyan, Summer Luster, Johnny Madrid, and Jose Torres have contributed.

The second-year varsity program has Maurizio Ciriello as the head coach.

3A Southeast Region Standings

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Brady Hooper (31) dribbles the ball en route to scoring a goal in the 59th minute.

To date, the region members’ standings were Thatcher (11-4 overall, 6-1 seeding, 2-0 region), Safford (8-5, 4-5, 2-0), Empire (8-8-1, 5-4, 2-1), Palo Verde Magnet (3-9-4, 3-4-1, 2-1), Andrada Polytechnic (1-6, 1-6, 1-2), Morenci (3-9-1, 2-4-1, 1-3) Tombstone (1-6, 1-6, 1-4).

Region match results are: Thatcher (2-0) 3-1 over Empire (Jan. 19) and 3-1 over Palo Verde Magnet (Jan. 20); Safford (2-0) 8-0 over Tombstone (Jan. 8) and 8-0 over Morenci (Jan. 20); Empire (2-1) 5-0 over Morenci (Jan. 9) and 4-0 over Andrada Polytechnic (Jan. 11); Palo Verde Magnet (2-1) 11-1 over Andrada Polytechnic (Jan. 9) and 8-0 over Tombstone (Jan. 17); Andrada Polytechnic (1-2) 3-1 over Tombstone (Jan. 19); Morenci (1-3) 2-0 over Tombstone (Jan. 11); and Tombstone (1-4) 1-0 over Morenci (Dec. 2).

This week (Jan. 23-28), Safford visits Palo Verde Magnet, Thatcher visits Morenci, Tombstone visits Empire on Monday, Jan. 23; Thatcher visits Safford on Tuesday, Jan. 24; Andrada Polytechnic visits Safford, Empire visits Palo Verde Magnet, and Thatcher visits Tombstone on Wednesday, Jan. 25; Surprise Highland Prep visits Andrada Polytechnic on Thursday, Jan. 26; and Safford visits Sabino on Friday, Jan. 27.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci freshmen Andrea Dorame, left, and Jose Torres, right, react to second-half goals scored by the Wildcats.

Next week (Jan. 30-Feb. 4), Palo Verde Magnet visits Tanque Verde on Monday, Jan. 30; Andrada Polytechnic visits Thatcher, Palo Verde Magnet visits Morenci, and Safford visits Empire on Tuesday, Jan. 31

3A State Rankings

The state rankings for Southeast Region members as of noon on Jan. 20 were: No. 11 of 55 for Thatcher (5-1 seeding, 5.6878 rating), No. 24 for Empire (5-4, 0.3336), No. 31 for Safford (3-5, minus 2.6474), No. 34 for Palo Verde Magnet (3-3-1, minus 4.0764), No. 47 for Morenci (2-3-1, minus 9.9866), No. 48 for Andrada Polytechnic (1-6, minus 10.0311), and No. 52 for Tombstone (1-6, minus 12.4456).