By Alex Zener
Members of Corona’s girls soccer team, currently ranked No. 16, has several matches in January to improve the team’s rankings before 2018 6A Soccer Conference Play-In Tournament on Jan. 25.
The top eight 6A teams automatically qualify for the state tournament. The Conference Play-In Tournament is where the lower 16 seeded teams (numbers 9-24) play to determine which eight get to move up to play in the 6A State Tournament, scheduled to start Jan. 30 at the higher seed.
Corona’s team started the season with several new players to varsity after returning only four starters and 10 players from last season’s team two returning starters, seniors Skylar
Byrnes and Abby Robertson, have continued where they left off last season by having a major impact on the success of the team with their offensive skills.
“Skyler and Abby are among the best players in the state,” said head coach Matthew Smith. “They have been doing a bit of a role reversal this season. Skylar has been assisting most of the goals while Abby has been scoring the goals.”
Senior midfielder Robertson is credited with five goals and 12 points.
“Abby is awesome,” said Smith. “She can play any position on the field and has already played a number of them for us. Abby leads by example, leaving it all out on the field, every game. She has been incredible on free kicks.”
Senior striker Byrnes is credited with six assists, two goals and nine points in Corona’s first 10 matches.
“Skylar is one of the best kids I have ever coached. She is such a hard-working player,” said Smith. “She will be playing at Fort Lewis College next year under Jimmy
“I’m thrilled because he was one of the first to see the same things in Skylar that I did—a determination to be great and a willingness to do whatever is necessary to win.”
Junior midfielder Riye Torrace, another returning starter, is credited with five assists and five points so far this season.
“Riye was a starter for us previously but has really become an impact player this season,” said Smith.
Junior midfielder Samantha Scheurer, the other returning starter, has started 11 matches, recording one assist and one point. Besides the four returning starters from last season, several other players have had an influence on Corona’s performance on and off the soccer field.
In her first season starting at goalkeeper, junior Maya Benedict is crucial to the team’s success.
“Getting Maya back from injury has been huge,” said Smith. “She has been very solid for us, getting better and better each game. She does a great job communicating
and organizing our defense.”
Benedict has recorded 96 saves at goal, or an average of eight a match. Junior midfielder Amber Sammon showed up in the preseason much improved after playing club in the offseason and has stepped her game up to another level, according to Smith.
Sammon and Robertson currently lead the team in goals and points, with each scoring five goals and 10 points.
“Amber is incredibly fast and is really just starting to figure out how good a goal scorer she can be,” said Smith. “She takes a lot of the load off Skylar and Abby, and the more she does that, the more successful we will be.”
Freshman striker Amaya Antonio was named player of the game for scoring the only goal against Horizon earlier in the season that resulted in a win for Corona.
“Amaya is a big kid for a freshman, so you often expect a lot from her, but you also have to realize she just turned 14 a couple of weeks ago,” said Smith. “She actually scored that goal against Horizon when she was only 13 years old.”
“Amaya is a great kid. She is very coachable and will become a top-notch player,” said Smith.
In addition, sophomore striker Sheyla Castro has been a pleasant surprise according to Smith. Additional members of Corona’s girls soccer team include senior strikers Jordan Alperin, Destiny Romero and Natalie Swanstrom; senior midfielders Lauren Hollar, Juliana
Lay and Mallory Gornall; senior defender Jenessa Lewis; junior striker Karyme Perea; junior defender Mielah Brown; sophomore defenders Emerson Echerivel and Suzannah Scheurer;
sophomore midfielders Ally Sharp and CeCi Bradley; and freshman defenders Abby Benedict, Catelyn Bradley and Stephanie Lundine.
Corona was scheduled to play at Westview Jan. 8 and at Highland Jan. 10. The Highland game was scheduled to be broadcast live on the High School Sports Network.
Corona’s Girls Basketball
The team, which lost six seniors last spring to graduation, including the leading scorer for the past three seasons, Leilani Peat, returned four players who either started or played significant minutes last season.
Three of these four players are guards who currently lead the team in scoring. The leading scorer is sophomore guard Taylor Davis, who has scored 126 points in 12 games. She averages 10.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game.
The other two leading scorers are juniors Justys Irish and Angelica Lopez. Irish has scored 92 points in only nine games, averaging 10.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.9 steals per game. She has made 19 three-pointers. Lopez, a 5-foot-3 guard, is the third
leading scorer, averaging 7.2 points and 3.2 rebounds a game. Lopez, who shoots 33% behind the three-point line, scored a total of 93 points in the first 13 games.
Corona also returned 6-foot-5 sophomore center Maya Peat, who has played in all 13 games so far this season. Last season she averaged almost eight points a game.
Those also returning from last season’s varsity squad included senior Asheley Chau, who has played in all games averaging 3.5 rebounds a game, and junior forward Brennan Agnew.
New to the varsity team are two impact players in senior forward Delany Mohr and junior center Chloe Medder. Mohr leads the team in rebounds with 56 rebounds in 13 games or an average of 4.3 rebounds a game. Mohr shoots 33% from the three-point line and is credited with 13 assists, 12 steals and five blocked shots.
Medder, who has played in all 13 games, is the leading blocker on the team with 19 blocks. The 5-foot-9 center has 47 rebounds, 13 assists and 49 points credited to her on the stat sheet.
Additional players who contribute on and off the court include junior guard Amiya Iwueka, junior forwards Desiree Sheridan and Olivia Morgan, and junior guard Trinity Pierce. Iwueka has played minutes in all 13 games, scoring 13 points with 21 rebounds, six assists, seven steals and six blocked shots, while Morgan has played in 11 games where she averaged over three rebounds a game.
Corona has 13 games left on their schedule this season starting with a game at Desert Ridge Jan. 5 before two home games are scheduled. On Jan. 9 the Aztecs were scheduled to play Gilbert and Mountain Home Jan. 12, both on their home court.
Up next is an away game at Desert Vista on Jan. 16 and another at Kofa on Jan. 19.
Marcos de Niza Girls Basketball
The girls basketball team started the second half of the 2017-18 season with a home conference game Jan. 9 against Seton Catholic. The team is led by five seniors and two sophomores who play most of the minutes.
Although senior guard Melahni Washington has only played in 10 of the 14 games, she leads the team in scoring with 137 points or an average of 13.7 points a game. Washington also leads the team in rebounds with a total of 81 and blocks, with 10 or an average of one block a game.
Senior guard Renee Ramos has played in all 14 games, scoring a total of 134 points with 72 total rebounds and seven blocked shots. Ramos is the assist leader on the team with 39. She also leads all players with 74 steals. The next closest player is Washington with 35 steals.
Senior Alex Lizarraga is the third leading scorer on the team, with 72 points or an average of 5.5 points a game. She leads the team in three-point shots made at 13. Senior Kiara Martin has played in 13 games, scoring 57 points with 49 rebounds, 11 assists, 14 steals and five blocked shots credited to her name.
In the center position, senior Emma Barnes has played in 14 games, scoring 29 points with 79 total rebounds, 17 steals and seven blocks. Two sophomores, Tamera Rivera and Moriah
Turpin, play significant minutes for Marcos. Rivera has played in all 14 games, averaging 4.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.7 steals a game while Turpin has played in 13 games averaging 3.2 rebounds a game.
Additional players on the team include Micaela Vasquez, juniors Kiah Begaye and Bianca Mason- Martinez, sophomore Alaina Sellers and freshman Savannah Martinez.
Early games this month included Jan. 11 at Tempe and Jan. 12 at Prescott before playing two games on the Padres home court, one scheduled for Jan. 16 against Higley and the second Jan. 18 against Casa Grande.