Wildcats welcome Titans for season finale Tuesday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Images of seniors will adorn the Lawson Stadium field for the season finale against Tucson Palo Verde Magnet Tuesday, Jan. 31. The No. 49 Wildcats host the No. 33 Titans for a Southeast Region contest at 6 p.m.

Final rankings and play-in matches are to be posted Wednesday

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – Morenci hosts No. 33 Tucson Palo Verde Magnet as No. 49 for the soccer season finale and Southeast Region match Tuesday, Jan. 31.

The Wildcats have gone winless in their most recent three matches, being outscored 1-17 yet taking a total of 20 shots on goal. The numbers were 1-13 and 14 against Graham County teams Safford and Thatcher. The visitors split with the same opponents, topping Safford 4-1 and falling 1-3 to Thatcher. Shots on goal were 15.

Other matches for region members this week include No. 47 Andrada Polytechnic at No. 11 Thatcher and No. 34 Safford at No. 23 Empire on Jan. 31.

Palo Verde Magnet Titans

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Andrew Castillo (19) makes one of seven steals against the Eagles, with the victim being senior Gene Huish (5). Huish scored one of five Thatcher goals.

The Titans (4-10-5 overall) have wins of 11-1 over Andrada Polytechnic (Jan. 9), 4-1 over Eloy Santa Cruz Valley (Jan. 13), 8-0 over Tombstone (Jan. 17), and 4-1 over Safford (Jan. 23).

Palo Verde’s losses are 0-6 to Tucson Desert View (Dec. 7), 0-10 to Tucson (Dec. 8), 1-6 to Vail Cienega (Dec. 10), 1-3 to Tucson Amphitheater (Dec. 14), 2-4 to Sahuaro (Dec. 16), 1-2 to Tucson Catalina (Dec. 19), 0-4 to Tucson Flowing Wells (Jan. 4), 2-4 (PK following 1-1 tie) to Sahuarita (Jan. 7), 1-3 to Thatcher (Jan. 20), and 1-2 to Tanque Verde (Jan. 30).

Ties were 2-2 with Tucson Sahuaro (Dec. 10), 2-2 in overtime with Tucson Pueblo (Dec. 21), 2-2 with Tucson Tanque Verde (Jan. 3), 2-2 with Tucson Cholla (Jan. 5), 22 with Empire (Jan. 25),

Palo Verde lists four seniors, seven juniors, eight sophomores, and three freshmen on its roster. The team includes seniors Oscar Canez, Alejandro Guerrero, Jeremiah Miller, and Benjamin Mutingamo; juniors Benito Borja, Muneer Dawood, Hosin Glilate, Theophile Irakoze, Tumaini Katunda, Charma Makil, and Godlove Nkeh; sophomores Abdulaziz Bitar, Shukuru Charone, David Guaman, Victor Lopez, Macair Makiir, Luis Moline, Jeremiah Poxtan, Angel Rangel; and freshmen Christian Felix, Care Makiir, and Mechack Mathumo.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci reserves watch from the bench, bundled with multiple blankets to ward off the sub-freezing temperature.

Morenci Wildcats

The Wildcats (3-11-1) began their second varsity season as a member of the 7-team 3A Southeast Region, going through December without winning a match on the field.

Morenci left Globe with a 2-2 overtime tie (Nov. 30) and fell to both Tombstone 0-1 (Dec. 2) and to Tucson San Miguel Catholic 2-3 in overtime (Dec. 8).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Aaron Merz (40) dribbles the ball toward midfield as Thatcher sophomore Will Chidester (20) pursues.

The Wildcats were outscored 17-0 on the field during three matches played in 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).

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 (Jan. 9), downed the Yellow Jackets 2-0 in Tombstone (Jan. 11), fell 0-8 to the Bulldogs in Safford (Jan. 20), 1-5 to the Thatcher Eagles (Jan. 23) in Lawson Stadium, and 0-4 to the Bears in Coolidge (Jan. 25).

The Wildcats number nine seniors, four juniors, three sophomores, and nine freshmen. Class of 2023 members includes Josh Biggs, Andrew Castillo, Matteo Ciriello, Brady Hooper, Kathy Lara, Tyler Lewis, Aaron Merz, Clinton Sipes Jr., and Quinton Wiltbank; juniors Anthony Ballesteros, Gabe Clancy, Andrea Dorame, and Keaton Jasso; sophomores Nolyn Adams, Bryant Figueroa, and Jossue Vaca Jr.; and freshmen Mia Avila, Max Clancy, Leighton Colvin, Roselyn Dorrell, Emily Lewis, Sammy Kitcheyan, Summer Luster, Johnny Madrid, and Jose Torres.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Quinton Wiltbank (9) tries to dribble past Thatcher sophomore Kody Bingham (15).

The rained-out Jan. 17 match with Andrada Polytechnic in Tucson will not be rescheduled.

Morenci was an independent in 2022, finishing No. 49 with a 3-6 seeding record and a minus 14.7959 rating.

3A Southeast Region Standings

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Anthony Ballesteros (6) tries to maintain his balance during the first half against Thatcher. The Morenci junior led the Wildcats in goals scored and in assists prior to suffering a season-ending injury during the final four minutes.

At week’s start, the region member standings were Thatcher (14-4 overall, 9-1 seeding, 5-0 region), Empire (9-8-2, 6-4-1, 3-1-1), Palo Verde Magnet (4-10-5, 4-5-2, 3-1-1), Safford (9-8, 5-8, 3-2), Andrada Polytechnic (1-8, 1-8, 1-3), Morenci (3-11-1, 2-6-1, 1-4) Tombstone (1-8, 1-8, 1-6).

Region match results are: Thatcher (5-0) 3-1 over Empire (Jan. 19), 3-1 over Palo Verde Magnet (Jan. 20), 5-1 over Morenci (Jan. 23), 3-2 in overtime over Safford (Jan. 24), and 7-0 over Tombstone (Jan. 25); Empire (3-1-1) 5-0 over Morenci (Jan. 9), 4-0 over Andrada Polytechnic (Jan. 11), and 7-0 over Tombstone (Jan. 23); Palo Verde Magnet (3-1-1) 11-1 over Andrada Polytechnic (Jan. 9), 8-0 over Tombstone (Jan. 17), and 4-1 over Safford (Jan. 23); Safford (3-2) 8-0 over Tombstone (Jan. 8), 8-0 over Morenci (Jan. 20), and 5-0 over Andrada Polytechnic (Jan. 25); Andrada Polytechnic (1-3) 3-1 over Tombstone (Jan. 19); Morenci (1-4) 2-0 over Tombstone (Jan. 11); and Tombstone (1-4) 1-0 over Morenci (Dec. 2).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Jossue Vaca Jr. (39) gains control of the ball from a Thatcher defender. The Morenci sophomore scored the Wildcats’ lone goal against Thatcher.

A 2-2 overtime tie resulted in the Empire and Tombstone pairing on Jan. 25.

This week (Jan. 30-Feb. 4), Palo Verde Magnet fell 1-2 to Tanque Verde (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. 31 were: No. 11 of 55 for Thatcher (9-1 seeding, 6.4476 rating), No. 23 for Empire (6-4-1, minus 0.1178), No. 33 for Palo Verde Magnet (4-4-2, minus 4.5240), No. 34 for Safford (5-7, minus 5.1533), No. 47 for Andrada Polytechnic (1-8, minus 12.1023), No. 49 for Morenci (2-6-1, minus 13.5126), and No. 52 for Tombstone (1-8, minus 15.1309).

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Morenci freshmen Mia Avilla (7) rushes over to challenge Thatcher junior Jake Sett.