Kyle Zigich netted a hat trick as his No. 15 Northland Prep boys soccer team got its second straight win, routing No. 12 Rancho Solano Prep 8-0 at Sinagua Middle School Tuesday.
Zigich summed up Tuesday's win simply.
“It feels good to dominate," he said.
The victory over the visiting Rancho Solano Mustangs puts the Spartans a match away from winning the 2A North Region title, setting up a title match between the Spartans (3-5, 2-0 2A North) and No. 7 Camp Verde (6-3-1, 1-0 2A North) on Senior Night Friday.
The Spartans did a good job of maintaining possession early in the game, but they struggled converting that possession into shots on target.
Wings Rudra Amin and Henry Troutman both saw opportunities to make runs behind the defense but could not connect with a teammate on crosses inside the box. The Spartans would break through right after the 15-minute mark on a goal from Zigich, just a couple minutes after the striker had put an opportunity wide left.
It would take two minutes for the senior to once again find the back of net, putting a shot just past the Mustangs keeper from just inside the 18-yard box.
Riding the momentum, the Spartans continued to hold possession and the team's defense allowed the Mustangs very few opportunities going the other way.
The Mustangs managed a couple of attacks but none that flustered Spartans senior goalkeeper Connor Barta. Following one of those shots, sophomore Sean Cifu found his way past three Mustang defenders before crossing the ball to a wide-open Troutman, who converted on the open-goal opportunity.
Bryce Twidwell followed less than a minute later, putting the Spartans up 4-0 in the first half. The Spartans wrapped up the half with a goal from freshman Keenan Graber as one of Amin’s crosses finally found its target to put the Spartans up 5-0 at the break.
The Spartans defense kept pressure away from Barta in the second half as the keeper wasn’t called on often.
The Spartans offense went back to their early form until they earned a corner kick with 15 minutes to go. The corner went deep, allowing Twidwell to put it in at the back post.
Twidwell has missed most of the season with injury and the junior scored two in his second game back.
“It's awesome playing with these guys after watching for half the season," Twidwell said.
Twidwell's goal sparked another scoring surge as Zigich got his hat trick just a couple minutes later to put the Spartans within one goal of a mercy-rule decision. The team ended the match four minutes early thanks to a goal from Jordan Strohmeyer, giving the Spartans their first mercy-rule win and their first shutout of the season.
The Spartans now face Camp Verde not just to send their seniors out with a win, but for a region title. The Spartans will look to extend the win streak at 3:30 p.m. on Friday at Sinagua Middle School.
If Northland Prep wins Friday, it will get an automatic berth into the 2A Conference state tournament.
Spartans 10, Elks 0
After a three matches with scoring a bit lower than normal, the No. 1 Spartans got out of their slump of sorts.
Northland Prep (11-0. 4-0 2A Central) routed Round Valley Tuesday on the road. Sydney Sventek and Ellie Karren each had hat tricks with four and three goals, respectively.
Kiarra Hovis added three assists and one goal, Mia Blair had one goal and two assists, and Karren also assisted on a pair.
Monday the Spartans were able to get yet another win, beating Show Low 6-1 battling through a chilly a windy afternoon at Sinagua Middle School.
The 11-0 Spartans have just one more regular-season match as the team hopes to remain perfect for the second straight season. The regular-season finale is Thursday at home versus St. Johns.
Spartans 3, Spartans 0
The No. 30 Northland Prep Spartans dropped their fourth match in a row, losing to the No. 5 Scottsdale Prep Spartans in three sets 25-16, 25-12, 25-15 in the Valley. Northland Prep (1-8, 1-7 2A Central) is on the road at No. 37 North Pointe (1-12, 0-9 2A Central) Saturday.
Daily Sun Sports Editor Lance Hartzler contributed to this roundup.
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