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Mitchell, Mesa Ridge play to tie, giving Marauders regular-season 4A Metro title
In one of the rarest occurrences in sports, two teams left Mesa Ridge High School happy Tuesday night.
The host Grizzlies battled back from a rough first half to erase a 2-0 deficit and tie Mitchell 2-2 in an intense boys’ soccer game that concluded with a pair of fruitless overtimes. Mitchell (7-2-3, 5-0-2 4A CSML) may have lost its lead, but the Marauders secured the school’s first league championship thanks to the tie.
It was smiles all around when the game was finished.
“We got our league title, and I just couldn’t be more proud of these kids,” said Mitchell coach Brett Humphrey, whose squad is unbeaten (5-0-1) in its last six games. “Obviously in the second half we struggled a little bit, but we played well in the first half. A tie is better than a loss, and we’ll take it.”
Mesa Ridge’s Mario Sigala was equally pleased after the 90-minute emotionally charged slugfest, which included numerous vicious collisions and a handful of injury time outs.
“I gave them a little pep talk at halftime and just told them, ‘If you want this, you have to go out and get it,’” Sigala said. “When you challenge them, they’ll respond for you. I’m really proud of all of these guys, and they’re playing well.”
Mitchell owned the first half, taking a 1-0 lead 16:24 into the game on a goal by Angel Flores and building a 2-0 advantage thanks to an Andy Peinado goal with 16:04 remaining. That was the score after the first 40 minutes, a half full of missed opportunities for the Grizzlies (5-6-1, 4-2-1).
Sigala challenged his team at the break, and they responded with a vengeance.
Cody Costra put Mesa Ridge on the board with a goal off a free kick from 15 yards out just 6:33 into the second half. Less than three minutes later, Costra struck again, tying the game with 30:42 remaining.
The remainder of the second half was a back-and-forth battle in the middle of the field. Both teams had serious scoring chances in each of the two five-minute overtime periods, but neither could break through.
Costra said one thing kept the Grizzlies from giving up after the first half and disappointing the team’s seven seniors on senior night.
“Heart,” Costra said firmly. “Coach Sigala’s halftime speech gave us back some heart. He told us that we needed to keep working, that we’re never out of it.”
Next up for both teams is the CSML league tournament, which begins Thursday at Garry Berry Stadium.