CdS Aztec soccer girls ‘starting to hit their peak’

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The Corona girls soccer team won six out of its last seven matches.  (Photo by Kris Cartwright for Wrangler News. For more, visit kriscartwright.smugmug.com)

Corona’s girls soccer team, with a current 11-5 record, has won six out of the last seven matches and appears to have a good chance to improve on its No. 9 ranking, with three games left in the regular season.

“I think we are just starting to hit our peak and we could be a threat in the playoffs,” said coach  Matt Smith. “Solid leadership by a big senior class will help us finish strong.”

The Aztecs have shown they have the offensive ability to put up the points by outscoring their opponents, with 82 goals compared to 15 by their foes.

“We have been getting great offensive production from juniors Olivia Nguyen, Abby Robertson and Skylar Byrnes,” said Smith. “Olivia is an incredibly talented player in breaking down and beating defenders. She has had an exceptional season.”

Nguyen leads Corona’s team with 21 goals, 15 assists and 46 shots on goal, followed by Byrnes with 14 goals, eight assists and 36 shots on goal.

In fact, Nguyen was No. 5 on Corona’s all-time scoring list with 127 points heading into the Desert Ridge game on Jan. 13, according to Smith.

The top four on the all-time scoring list are Brittany Cole with 225 points; Patti Reed with 144 points; Courtney Mayers with 136 points;  and Alexa Daiutolo with 129 points.

Byrnes was named player of the game in the Aztecs’ 5-2 win over Desert Ridge on Jan. 13. It was the sixth time this season she was picked as the player of the game.

“Skylar had 11 shots on goal, making two goals including the game winner,” said Smith. “A huge performance.”

“Abby Robertson has also been having a big season with eight goals and 12 assists,” said Smith.

The defense has only allowed 15 goals so far this season, and in six matches opponents were held to zero goals.

“Defensively, our outside backs Emily Ramsland and Laney Gordon have been exceptional defensively, in addition to contributing into the attack,” said Smith. “The return of Nikki Hoey to centerback after an injury that kept her out in November and December has been tremendous.”

Goalkeeper Jordan Freese has played all but 14 minutes in the first 16 matches, guarding the Aztecs’ goals this season, where she had recorded 104 saves or an average of 6.5 saves a game.

“Jordan has done a great job in goal for us this season,” said Smith. “She is an incredibly athletic
keeper who has five or six saves so far this year that are as good as any I’ve witnessed in my career at Corona.”

Corona’s girls soccer team has three matches left in the regular season to improve on their No. 9 ranking before the 6A Conference Play-In Tournament starts Jan. 26.

The top eight teams get a bye until the second round. The No. 9 to 24 ranked teams play in this Conference Play-In Tournament to determine which teams will match up against the top eight in the 6A state playoffs. These will be the 16 teams that play in the first round of the state tournament starting at the high seed Feb. 1.

Corona had a game against No. 12 ranked Gilbert on Jan. 17 and then was scheduled to play at No. 11-ranked Mountain Pointe on Jan. 20, next at home against No. 1 ranked Desert Vista on Jan. 24.

Corona Wrestlers

The Aztecs brought home the championship trophy from the 51st Annual Flowing Wells Wrestling Invitational Jan. 14.

“For the first time in school history, the Aztecs are the Flowing Wells Champions,” said coach Jimmy Martinez.

“Winning individual championships are Zack Kvavle (first place), Jacob Garcia, Vinny Dolce and Brandon Konecny,” said Martinez. “Hunter Carmona finished in second place, while Bryce Nickel and Jacob Featherman finished in fifth place and Diego Fill finished in sixth.”

Just the week before, the Aztec wrestlers took second place at the Peoria Tournament of Champions, where Kvavle placed first.

“We were the highest-ranked Arizona team in the tournament, finishing behind Northview of California,” said Martinez.

Corona had six wrestlers place in the top six. Dolce and Konecny won individual titles. Garcia, Carmona and Fill finished in third place, while Cole Bernstein took fourth place and Kvavle was fifth.

Marcos de Niza Boys Basketball

When Mason Stark pulls up behind the three-point line to put up a shot, the odds of the basketball going through the hoop and the Padres getting three points is almost 50 percent. Stark, so far this season, has attempted 96 three-point shots and made 45 or 47 percent.

Ask anyone who has watched the Marcos de Niza boys basketball team play this season and they will tell you that the Padres like to shoot three pointers. As a team, they have attempted 376 three pointers and made 129 or 34 percent of them.

The ability to hit three pointers was evident in the Padres game at Prescott Jan. 13 when they made 13 three-pointers and defeated the Badgers 90-66.

Marcos started strong, outscoring Prescott 23-9
in the first quarter when Stark hit three of his four 3-pointers. Stark would end the game with 26 points to lead all scorers.

Jamari Robinson put up 17 points, Zurell Livingston, 16, and Tyson Union had 11 points. DaShawn Ray scored 7 points, Lovonne Brunson 5, Torren Union 4, and both Orion Bryant and Gaige Hale each scored 2 points.

Tyson Union made three of the 13 3-pointers as did Robinson while Livingstone scored two and Ray scored one.

The Padres outrebounded the Badgers 29-25 with Stark and Ray leading the team with seven rebounds each.

Union lead the team in assists with eight while Ray dished out five. The Padres with an 11-8 overall record were scheduled to play at home against Higley on Jan 17 and against Casa Grande Jan. 19 before playing at Seton Catholic on Jan. 24.

On Jan. 26, they will play at home against crosstown rival Tempe, then have another home game the next night against Youngker.

The last home game will be Jan. 31 against St. Mary’s. The Padres will then play their last regular season game Feb. 2 at Higley.

Tempe H.S. Defensive End Commits to UCLA

My-King Johnson, who played defensive end on Tempe’s football team, verbally committed to UCLA on Jan. 6.

Johnson, who received offers from Arizona State, Arizona, Oregon and USC, to name a few, was the leading tackler, with 89 total tackles, far outdistancing himself with 21.5 of the team’s 46.5 quarterback sacks.

McClintock’s New Football Coach

Corbin Smith was expected to be approved by the Tempe Union School District Governing Board as the Chargers’ new head football coach at their Jan. 18 meeting.

Smith, the son of previous University of Arizona head coach Larry Smith, has more than 17 years of coaching experience, ranging from college, University of Missouri, Arkansas State University, Mesa Community College, to high school at Gilbert’s Mesquite High.

He has been involved in football from the time he was a youngster watching his dad to his experience as a college quarterback and special-teams player at USC and University of Iowa.

Although it will be his first experience as a head coach, Smith has been a quarterback coach, offensive coordinator, tight ends coach, wide receivers coach, special teams coordinator, assistant head coach, defensive line, defensive backs and linebackers coach.

Smith, who is the founder and president of the Larry Smith Coaching Academy, which hosts coaching clinics all around the United States to educate youth football coaches on the safety and fundamentals, is currently working on a Master’s Degree in Special Education and is a special education teacher at Mesquite.

Smith will be the third head coach in five years at McClintock, succeeding Spencer Waggoner.

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