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Fri, April 03

Phantoms win<br>home opener, 2-1

The Grand Canyon High School soccer team had an interesting weekend with a 2-1 victory over rival Ash Fork and a 16-0 rout of Flagstaff Northland Prep. After the dust had settled, Phantoms coach Ken Hunter said the team actually played better in the close win over the Spartans.

Brian Skeet was active in the Ash Fork zone all afternoon on Friday.

"I thought we played better against Ash Fork, despite the score of the Northland Prep game," Hunter said. "I thought we played really well. They didn’t have many shots on goal. The difference against Northland Prep is we put the ball in the goal."

Grand Canyon did have its chances to score goals in the Friday matchup against Ash Fork. In the first quarter, Eddie Tobin just missed the net with an angled shot that went wide. Jesse Hunter then nearly had a goal with a header off a corner kick.

The Spartans had a chance to go up in the 28th minute with a penalty shot. Grand Canyon’s Nate Bitsui, who had a couple of spectacular, full-dive, fingertip saves in the match, denied the Spartans on the penalty kick.

In the 30th minute, Grand Canyon got on the scoreboard with a goal by Filiberto Valerio, who was set up nicely by Brian Skeet. The first half ended with Grand Canyon leading 1-0.

"Give some credit to Ash Fork, they had five giys on defense and three midfielders, so they had eight people behind the ball," Hunter said. "We did have our chances but crosses were going right to their goalkeeper. We played well, we just didn’t put the numbers on the board."

Grand Canyon went up 2-0 in the 72nd minute when Valerio scored again, this time on a penalty shot. Valerio snuck the ball inside the left corner of the net.

Ash Fork then upped its intensity and scored a goal four minutes later. Josh Wentzlof scored for the Spartans and the final four minutes would be a frenzy. But Grand Canyon was able to control the ball for most of the remaining minutes, although Ash Fork did make one run after a misjudgment by a Phantom defender.

Ash Fork coach Sonny Martin received a yellow card early in the second half. Grand Canyon’s Miles Hunter didn’t play in a disciplinary move by the head coach.

In the win over Northland Prep, Miles Hunter was back in uniform and a school record would fall. In the 16-0 win, nine different players scored goals for the Phantoms, led by Hunter’s six.

"They were a very young team and I really did play most of my subs," Coach Hunter said. "A couple of JV players were in almost the whole game."

The Phantoms’ Valerio scored in the game’s first minute and it was all downhill from there. Tempy Walker scored two goals, Valerio added another and Chas Iacampo, Becky Richardson and Jose Ibarra also found the net in the first half for a 7-0 lead.

Miles Hunter had played defense in the first half and switched over to offense for the second half. Despite only one half remaining, Hunter felt confident he could break the school record of five goals held by Peter Drake.

Hunter got off to a quick start with three goals only three minutes apart. After John Gabaldon scored in the 45th minute, Hunter then scored his other three goals over a span of 18 minutes. Chris Streit and David Robinson scored late to account for the final score.

After getting the school record in the 69th minute, Hunter took himself out of the game.

There were 12 assists on the 16 goals. Walker and Iacampo led with two assists apiece. Hunter, Valerio, Richardson, Streit, Tobin, Kevin Beckerleg, Scott Olsen and Janna Barth also had assists.

Jacob Wahler got the shutout at goalie, but the Phantom defense didn’t allow any shots on goal the entire afternoon. The only time Wahler saw action was when his teammates passed the ball back to him.

Grand Canyon will take a 4-2 record into this week’s action. The Phantoms’ win over Ash Fork did not count in the conference standings. Those two teams will meet again on Oct. 18 at Ash Fork when it will count.

The Phantoms will host Precision High School, an AIA associate member team out of Phoenix, on Friday at 1 p.m. There will also be a JV match following at 3 p.m.

On Saturday, Grand Canyon travels to Chino Valley for the conference opener. The varsity is scheduled for an 11 a.m., start with a JV match to follow at 1 p.m.

"Every year, they’re a tough team," Hunter said about Chino Valley. "I expect them to be tough again this year. I think we’ll do well if we can combine the two games we had this weekend, the possession and passing we had with Ash Fork combined with the finishing against Northland Prep."

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