Safford’s superb soccer season stalls in semis

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Chloe Peters (16) attacks the ball with a Gilbert Classical defender on her heels. The Safford freshman scored during the 14th minute to give the hosts a 1-0 advantage in the quarterfinals. Safford fell 1-3 to Gilbert Christian in the semifinals at Westwood High School in Mesa on Wednesday night. 

By Jon Johnson

MESA – The No. 3 Gilbert Christian Knights scored more goals against No. 2 Safford than the Bulldogs allowed all year to advance to the 3A Girls Soccer State Championship Wednesday night with a 3-1 victory at Westwood High School. The teams previously tied during a regular-season tournament 2-2 on Dec. 10. 

Safford reached the semifinals after defeating No. 15 Coolidge 5-1 in the opening round and No. 7 Gilbert Classical 2-0 in the quarterfinals.

The championship game will be No. 1 Benjamin Franklin Charges against No. 3 Gilbert Christian Knights at Westwood High School on Saturday, starting at 2 p.m.   

Safford (15-1-1) outscored regular-season opponents 78-6 this season, with wins of 8-0 over Tanque Verde (Dec. 6), 6-1 over Coolidge (Dec. 13), 8-0 over Empire (Jan. 3), 8-0 over Tucson Mica Mountain (Jan. 5), 4-0 over Tucson Pueblo (Jan. 11), 7-0 over Florence (Jan. 19), 3-1 over Pusch Ridge (Jan. 20), 9-1 over Tucson Catalina (Jan. 21), 8-0 over Tucson Palo Verde Magnet (Jan. 23), 1-0 over Thatcher (Jan. 24), 8-0 over Tucson Andrada Polytechnic (Jan. 25), 1-0 over Tucson Sabino (Jan. 27), and 7-1 over Empire (Jan. 31). 

Safford has six seniors, five juniors, six sophomores, and nine freshmen on its roster. The team includes seniors Elysia Barringer, Savanna Clonts, Karyme Grijalva, Jaylen Jurado, Olivia Madrid, and Sophia Romero; juniors Emilee Brown, Samantha Foote, Aminee Johnson, Lydia Marin, and Daisha Price; sophomores Breanna Arbizo, Giselle Garrabo, Isabella Gutierrez, Ellie Marin, Emma Motes, and Sophia Tellez; and freshmen Trinity Dominguez, Hailey Foote, Jerzi Hawkins, Rhylie Klajda, Tashoney Kniffin, Reyka Lester, Luz Mendoza, Chloie Peters, and Bianca Quintero.

Individual season leaders include Trinity Dominguez, who led the team with 49 points and 19 goals. Helping in that aspect was Luz Mendoza, who led the team with 17 assists. She also excelled defensively, leading the team with 40 steals, followed by Olivia Madrid with 36 and Sophia Romero with 34. 

Emilee Brown was the last line of defense and had 48 saves with 9 shutouts for the year. All stats from MaxPreps. 

Raymundo Frasquillo contributed to this report.